In The News

Making a case against lower alcohol limits

By: Editorial

Adam Conover, host of truTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything” enjoys poking holes in popular opinion about almost every subject, from herpes to tipping wait staff.

Adam might want to look into a move to lower the legal blood-alcohol level for driving to .05 from .08.

We’d got a feeling he might take a position similar to an opinion piece submitted to the Gazette by Sarah Longwell, who sees it as an attack on women’s rights.

Oh, she’s also managing director for the American Beverage Institute, but her arguments might make Adam Conover proud.

While Hawaii and Washington were unsuccessful in lowering the legal BAC to .05, only Utah was successful, and she warns that others states are likely to follow suit.

The move might have a noble purpose, to get dangerous drivers off the road, Longwell argues that it really targets moderate social drinkers, especially female ones.

“Women will be disproportionally affected because they hit a .05 BAC more quickly than their male counterparts — which is due to differences in body chemistry and a different muscle-to-fat ration,” she wrote.

In fact, a 120-pound woman can consume pm;u half as many drinks as a 140-pound man before hitting the arrest threshold of .05.

The man would be legally unable to drive after just two drinks, but the woman wouldn’t dare to drive after a little more than one.

It’s not just driving, Longwell argues.

Moderate social drinking often comes with the job in the world of business and politics, and women would be at a disadvantage when it comes to forming business client relationships over the usual drink or two.

Surprisingly, according to American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brook’s writing in Forbes, average income rises — and the risk of heart disease falls — with moderate alcohol consumption. Longwell noted that the peak income for women comes with a consumption of an average of 1.5 drinks per day, enough to bring a drunk-driving conviction.

Golf, another incubator for business relationships, usually involves drinking as well.

Beverage industry spokeswoman Longwell contends that many other driving habits hare more dangerous than driving with a .05 BAC, such as talking on a hands-free cellphone, which is 17 times more likely to cause a crash than driving at even the current .08 limit.

A lower blood alcohol limit may be a topic for debate in many state legislature in the coming years, but perhaps the debate should be delayed until we’ve sorted out technology and legal issues involved with self-driving cars.