Going beyond the headline

The Herald reports:

A test in which a Weekend Herald staff member knocked back nine beers before hitting the legal limit has brought accusations from health groups that the Government is condoning drink-driving. …

The two staff members who took part in the session, a female reporter and a male photographer, were shocked at how drunk they became before being over the limit. Both said they would not consider driving in that state.

Good. A limit is not a target. The limit is saying you are so impaired it is a criminal offence to drive your car. But that doesn’t mean it is safe to drive under that limit.

For example a speed limit may be 100 km/hr but in certain conditions it is dangerous to go more than 50 km/hr on an open speed road. Limits are not targets.

Photographer Richie Robinson, weighing 85kg, drank nine bottles of lager amounting to 11.7 standard drinks in just under four hours before reaching the limit of 400 micrograms of per litre of breath.

Now that is a lot. But what they also report beyond the headline is

Reporter Beck Vass, at 59kg, remained slightly within the existing limit after drinking five glasses of wine in just under two hours. She would have passed 250mcg on her third glass.

So if the limit was dropped to 0.05, a 59 kg woman would be not able to drive if they have a third glass of wine.

So if a a guy and a girl go out on a dinner date and share a bottle of wine, the girl will be risking a criminal record if she drives afterwards, if the limit is lowered.

If the research shows that there are numerous accidents caused by drivers who are between 0.05 and 0.08, then there could well be a good case for lowering the limit. But at present, the only stat we have is that only one over over 25 driver killed last year had a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08.

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