On September 1st, the Blood Alcohol Content limit from Arizona drivers decreased from .10 to .08.
Alberto Gutier, Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, says this decrease means one less drink for an average person to bring their BAC level down to .08.
Alcohol affects individuals differently and a drinker’s metabolism, weight, tolerance for alcohol and sex plays a hand in how an alcoholic beverage will affect their BAC limit. The time taken to consume the drink also contributes to the effectiveness of the drink.
Gutier estimated that a 170-pound man would reach the .08 limit if he consumed four drinks within two hours.
He also explained that once an average man reaches a BAC limit of .05, skills used to drive a vehicle are affected. “Scientific research has proven that after three drinks a 170-pound male starts to experience difficulties, such as divided attention and choice reaction time. Add one more drink to that and his eye movement control, ability to stand steady and even process information all are greatly reduced, even though his BAC is likely to be only about .05 which is still below the ‘legal limit’,” he added.
The penalties for Driving Under the Influence remain the same with the new level. A first offense typically results in 24 hours jail time, a $250 fine and three to six month suspension of the offender’s driver’s license.
Repeat offenders see an increase in penalties and possibly the installation of an Interlock Device, which requires the driver to blow into the device in order for the vehicle to start.
Underage drinking and driving still is a No Tolerance offense in Arizona.
The decreased limit is the result of a federal provision that requires states to lower their BAC level to .08 before 2003. If a state does not reduce their level within the stated time frame, funding for road maintenance and repair will be removed. Because Arizona reduced the level before the deadline, the state received $1.8 million to increase highway safety and alcohol education.
In order to publicize and inform drivers of the limit decrease a campaign slogan, “Drink Responsibly…Know Your Limit!” is being run throughout the state.
“It’s each drivers personal responsibility to know their limit and watch what they drink,” Gutier added to the slogan.
Last year 1,036 people died on Arizona highways and 26 percent of those deaths were alcohol related.