Illinois drivers will need to be more judicious with their alcohol if the state government accepts a plan to lower the drunken driving threshold currently being recommended by a scientific panel. Under that recommendation, the blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, threshold would be lowered from .08 to .05.

Charged by the federal government with the task of eliminating the 10,000 deaths related to alcohol-impaired driving each year, a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convened to provide a blueprint for states to lower these fatalities. The highlight of these recommendations is the suggestion for states to lower the BAC from .08 to .05 with the purpose of eliminating fatalities that involved drivers who might still be impaired despite not having a BAC high enough to violate laws against driving under the influence.

The panel’s report included 489 pages of recommendations that would fundamentally change the way individual states regulated alcohol and drunk driving. On top of the BAC changes, the report also recommended increased alcohol taxes and reducing the hours alcohol is available in stores, bars and restaurants. These proposals have seen strong opposition from representatives of the alcohol and hospitality industries. It is their belief that lowering the BAC threshold will lead to a higher incarceration rate of unimpaired drivers while doing nothing to curtail those largely responsible for the majority of alcohol-related fatalities, namely serial offenders and those with much higher BAC levels.

If Illinois agrees to lower the BAC threshold, it will likely lead to an increase of arrests for driving under the influence. When an individual is facing charges of driving under the influence, they risk fines, the suspension of their driving privileges and even incarceration. An attorney experienced in criminal defense law may be able to help that individual navigate the court system, negotiate plea deals and defend that individual at trial.