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Lowering the Legal Limit? How Many Drinks is Too Much

In an effort to cut back on drunk driving, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended states reduce the blood alcohol content levels that make someone legally drunk.
"They should, because people who drink and drive are idiots," said Lewis McWhorter, an Abilene resident.

We all know drunk driving can be deadly.

"There are almost a thousand fatalities in the united states in 2011 involving people who had a BAC between .05 and .07," said a spokeswoman from the NTSB on Tuesday.

So according to the NTSB, tougher steps are needed and with that, comes a recommendation for  states to lower blood alcohol content limits from the current .08 to .05.

"I think it would change a lot of things," said DeWaylon Esco, an Abilene resident. "The amount of revenue they get from catching drunk drivers, the amount of fines they get, it would definitely drive it down."

Beth Ann Oldiges is a registered dietitian and explains exactly how alcohol affects your body -- and how quickly.

"It takes precedent over any other nutrient, so if you're eating and drinking? The alcohol comes first," she explained. "Research shows that within five minutes, effects of alcohol are shown on the brain."

So how much does it take to get to the proposed .05 limit?

Hard to say, because it depends heavily on a wide variety of factors.

"Gender, race, height, weight, so many factors," Oldiges said.

One group that has spoken out against the recommendation -- the American Beverage Institute.

According to them, an average 120 pound woman reaches that .05 limit after just one drink -- that's one can of beer, or one glass of wine, or one shot of hard liquor.

"On average, 35 to 45 minutes after your first drink, your BAC reaches its peak," Oldiges said.

After that, she said, it takes on average, one hour after you finish that drink for it to leave your system, bringing your BAC back to zero.

But for many of the people we spoke with, the tone is the same.

Buzzed, drunk, or even after one drink -- It's one too many to get behind the wheel.

"There are other means of getting home, there's always a taxi or a designated driver," Esco said.

"Don't get me wrong, I've been young and dumb and I've done it, but it's just not worth it," McWhorter added.

Exactly the point the NTSB is trying to drive home.
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