The first state to make driving under the influence of alcohol illegal was New York in 1960. That same year, a New York Times article noted that road deaths were at an all-time high. Georgia followed suit, lowering the legal BAC level to 0.12, and Texas is expected to raise its drinking age to 21.
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In 1991, Georgia changed its drunk driving laws, lowering the legal limit for alcohol to 0.12. In 1993, the state dropped the level to 0.10, and in 2001, the level was lowered even further to 0.08. It is still illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, but the BAC level for drunk driving in Georgia is now 0.12, a far cry from the 0.16 it was before.
Several factors contribute to the decision to raise the drinking age. For one, alcohol consumption is dangerous at any age, and it often leads to alcohol addiction, which takes over a person’s life. Those seeking treatment should consider Footprints to Recovery, a substance abuse treatment center that focuses on evidence-based treatment for alcohol abuse.
Drunk driving has been illegal in New York since 1960, but it wasn’t always this way. Before that, it was considered a sort of folk crime, an almost rite of passage for young men. The punishments were harsh but rarely enforced. Even if a drunk driver was arrested, they would request a jury trial and nearly always got off. In the 1960s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started working to educate legislators and the general public about the dangers of drunk driving. The agency used graphic pictures and statistics to show how much of a danger it was to drive after drinking.
While refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test is still allowed under some states’ laws, others have made it illegal. In some states, refusing to take the test could result in your license being suspended for 12 months or even revoked. DOT and NHTSA have argued that this is necessary to prevent repeat offenders.
BAC, or blood alcohol content, is a measure of alcohol concentration. It is also the legal limit for driving in all 50 states. Many states, including Indiana, have set lower levels than 0.05%. But that doesn’t mean all 50 states have adopted the same BAC standard. More than 100 countries have already set a lower BAC standard.
While the federal government’s recent ruling made the legal limit for drunk driving 0.08 percent, some states have yet to implement it. The state of Michigan, for example, has a two-tier system that triggers criminal charges for anyone who exceeds the limit and also imposes enhanced penalties on repeat offenders. Under the two-tier system, drivers with BAC levels of 0.08 percent or higher are subject to fines, license sanctions, and imprisonment.
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