Louisiana officials plan no increased enforcement against drunk drivers under a new state law that lowers the blood-alcohol limit from .10 percent to .08 percent. The New Orleans Times-Picayune quotes a city police spokesman as saying, “Procedurally, nothing’s going to change” and that “arrests will increase just because the threshold has been reduced.”:
A 120-pound man consuming three alcoholic beverages in an hour would register .09, not enough to violate the .10 standard, but over the new .08 limit. A woman weighing 120 pounds would test .08 after her second drink, less than the previous limit but in violation of the new rule.
Louisiana State Police spokesman Lt. William Davis said his department also plans few changes in its enforcement efforts because of the new rule. There were 386 fatal vehicle accidents involving alcohol in 2002, 47 percent of the state’s fatal crashes. That compares with a 41 percent average for the nation.
The state has been briefing the more than 200,000 bartenders and others who sell alcohol about the rule change for more than a year. The classes are designed to ensure that those dispensing alcohol know how to comply with the new standard and provide them tips to recognize when their customers may be headed for trouble.
One bartender told the paper that he doesn’t expect much change in the way bartenders conduct business or the way his customers drink. “We’re already trying to be so cognizant of who’s driving that it’s not going to change what I do here,” he said. “It might mean one less drink, perhaps. But in the overall scheme of things, we’re going to try to make people be as responsible as they have been in the past.”