NTSB recommends that blood alcohol level in the U.S. be lowered

The National Transportation Safety Board says states should lower the threshold for drunken driving.

NTSB officials say it should be cut from .08 blood alcohol level to .05, matching a standard that has substantially reduced highway deaths in other countries.

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson is concerned the reduction will make it more difficult to prosecute.

"As that limit goes lower, it's certainly going to be harder to show that the driver was impaired. A person that walks around at a 0.05 should look a lot better than a person that drives at 0.01," he explained.

Prosecutors use police reports on a driver's actions and appearance, for example, whether the driver has slurring speech or is unsteady on his or her feet. They also use video evidence from police dash cameras.

"We would still look at all of them and see whether or not, we as prosecutors believe that we could prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that this person's driving was impaired," he said.

Richardson said more research is needed showing that 0.05 is impairment before a decision is made about reducing the blood alcohol level.