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Tavern League concerned about tougher drunk driving standards

UNDATED (WRN)   The National Transportation Safety Board recommended this week that states lower the minimum limit on Blood Alcohol Concentrations for drunk driving from .08 to .05. The federal agency argues the limits would make the roads safer and help reduce highway deaths attributed to drunk driving.

Pam Moen with AAA-Wisconsin says that’s been the case in many European countries that have adopted a stricter limit, and the move could see similar success in this country.

Alcohol plays a role in 40 percent of the fatal crashes in Wisconsin each year. While Moen says the lower BAC limit could help encourage people to make smarter decisions about getting behind the wheel after having a drink or two, she says the “single biggest factor” is still going to be people governing their own behavior.

The proposal is raising concerns among bar owners. Scott Stenger with the Tavern League of Wisconsin says it puts the focus on the wrong problem and would actually do more harm to those who drink responsibly. Stenger says a .05 limit would discourage people from having even a single drink at dinner, arguing it would be virtually the same as the prohibitionist approach of setting the limit at zero.

Stenger says the focus needs to be on those who get behind the wheel with a high BAC or who are repeat offenders. He says tougher penalties for those drivers, along with treatment and education options, would do a lot more to help reduce drunk driving fatalities.