Tighter DUI regulations on the table

Reporter joins in on recent law enforcement training class

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Soon-to-be-filed legislation will seek to lower the limit at which drivers are legally drunk. Current law is .08 and the new legislation would lower the legal limit to .05.

At a recent law enforcement training class, a sheriff's deputy played the role of a bartender with four participants recruited by law enforcement and reporter Mike Vasilinda.

The five agreed to drink under controlled conditions as part of a training exercise. Vasilinda's drink was 2 ounces. Twenty-two minutes later, he said he was done.

Testers waited another 20 minutes before giving the participants a breathalyzer, the wait is to make sure there wasn't any alcohol in their mouths.

Current law says drivers are impaired at .08. Vasilinda was at .23, almost half way to what would be considered drunk if DUI limits are lowered.

As second drinks are poured, the mood in the room lightened. An hour after Vasilinda began, he said he had consumed four and a half ounces of liquor on an empty stomach, where he now had .07.

Only one of the other four drinkers would qualify as impaired if the DUI limit is lowered to .05.

Attorney Lee Meadows has practiced DUI law for 30-plus years.

"It's, you have .05 whether you feel impaired or not," said Meadows. "Then, the law can presume you're guilty."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is neutral and has no position on the change, they do have however want better enforcement on the current law.

The National traffic Safety Board says the risk of a crash at 0.05 percent blood alcohol level is about half as much as it would be at 0.08 percent.

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