The recent article concerning the legislation to lower the legal limit for drunken driving from a breathalyzer reading of 0.08 to 0.05 was somewhat incomplete.
The current law was the outgrowth of a study more than 40 years ago that conclusively demonstrated that everyone, without exception, was affected by the ingestion of alcohol with a reading of 0.08. So some people were affected by alcohol ingestion with readings less than 0.08. The state toxicologist at the time, so testified in a Franklin County jury case back then.
So, lowering the limit to 0.05 will only create a proof problem for the law enforcement agents. Every case doesn't always hinge on the blood alcohol reading. Conduct of the arrested driver while operating the motor vehicle is one of several considerations, including conduct after the vehicle is stopped. Field tests are done at that time. All evidence usually comes out at trial. So, lowering the limit to 0.05 will not create an unsurmountable problem for the arresting officer.
My suspicion is that anyone charged with DUI with a reading of 0.05, or even less, will demonstrate conduct that to a professionally responsible law enforcement officer determines factually that the driver was affected by the ingestion of alcohol. The test is "affected by," and that includes all the senses and physical conduct. I would favor lowering the test of 0.05. I doubt it will load up jails or the courts. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, in total, is still the test for guilt.
Never miss a local story.
JIM RABIDEAU, Pasco