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about Criminal Defense in North Carolina and South Carolina


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The .05 Solution

The National Transportation Safety Board recently issued a recommendation that state governments across the country should reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from .08 to .05. This caused a recent wave of media attention on drunk driving. Those who support the change cite alcohol related traffic deaths that could possibly be reduced with a lower limit. Those who oppose it, one being the director of the American Beverage Institute, state that it will do nothing to prevent the "hardcore drunk drivers" from getting behind the wheel. A USA Today editorial recommended the use of interlocks in lieu of a lower BAC.

The writing has been on the wall for this reduction for quite some time.  Criminalists I worked with at the Orange County District Attorney's Office told  me 10 years ago that .08 blood concentration would eventually be reduced to a .05 or .04..Whether this will actually happen is likely a political question within state governments. 

However, the media has not addressed the economic implications of  criminalization of lower blood alcohol concentration- the dramatic increase in criminal cases across the country. District and Superior Courts in Mecklenburg County are already overcrowded with cases. Among this backlog of cases, the North Carolina Court System just issued 80 million dollars in budget cuts over the next four years; 638 full time employees cut, including magistrates and district attorney staff that handle criminal cases. NC Policy Watch has an article that talks about this issue. Jail overcrowding and the ability of the police departments to handle such an increase in arrests on a daily basis is another issue.

Perhaps the .05 solution is not as simple as it seems.

Mecklenburg County Criminal Law Updates Provided by The Law Office of Carilyn Ibsen PLLC 


posted by Carilyn Ibsen at


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