The National Transportation Safety Board would like to see the states adopt laws making it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.05. Now, the limit is 0.08. Before that in most states, it was .10.
The board believes having the lower drunk-driving limit would reduce the 30,000 people a year who are killed in drunk-driving accidents. And that probably is true. But what the safety board doesn’t realize is that Americans seem to have a love of getting drunk and then killing themselves and others on the highways.
The Swedes, on the other hand, do not put up with any driver who blows more than a 0.02.
“You cannot have even one beer in Sweden and still be under the limit,” writes Kathryn Stewart in her book, “Driving While Intoxicated Laws in Other Countries.”
“You cannot even have one beer and still be under the limit. If you are found to be over the limit you will lose the right to drive in Sweden, face a fine and a prison sentence,” Stewart writes.
Prison terms are mandated in Sweden, for even a first offense. Fines can be huge. In Russia, where many people are said to live on vodka, the blood-alcohol limit is 0.03. But punishment isn’t nearly as severe as in Sweden.
Some opponents of the proposed 0.05 limit in the U.S. point out that when it comes to teenage drivers, more of them are killed by texting and other distracted driving than by drunken driving. But maybe that is an argument for tougher laws on texting while driving.
Maybe if someone is caught drinking and texting at the same time, the cop could pull out a gun and shoot the driver in the right arm, which could make it hard to both text and drink for quite a while.
Some Americans are determined to behave like idiots, even though they know better, and will drink toasts to the right to be that way.