The party's always going strong downtown, but when last call comes and it's time to head home, one proposal is calling for stricter measures on what's considered drunk driving.
"Buzzed driving is drunk driving -- and that's a true statement," said Stephen Stewart, an Austin attorney and Mothers Against Drunk Driving board member.
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a non-profit organization, calls on lawmakers to lower the DUI BAC level from .08 to .05
"The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world that hasn't already implemented the .05 BAC level," Stewart noted.
Nearly all countries in Europe and Australia have a lower DUI BAC threshold than the U.S.
"For instance, the EU reported a 50 percent reduction in fatal alcohol-related crashes after these new .05 standards were implemented. Without a doubt, it's going to save lives," Stewart said.
So what does a .05 equal?
According to their estimates, a 160-pound man would have a .05 BAC after two drinks in the span of an hour. To pass the .08 mark, it would take four drinks in the same time period.
But how easy is that for a bartender to determine?
"I don't think that .08 always looks intoxicated to me," explained Bob Woody, the president of the East Sixth Street Committee Association.
He owns or co-owns more than 20 bars downtown, and has worked in the area and industry for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in bringing ride-sharing services to Austin, in part to enhance safety.
Still, he's not convinced that lowering the BAC threshold is the answer.
"I think better education gets it done," said Woody.
Stewart said intoxication rates even lower than the proposed .05 are dangerous.
"You can get even as low as .02, and you're impaired -- your perception, the reaction time," Stewart noted.
At his establishments, Woody said staff are trained to turn away any patrons who appear too intoxicated.
"The doormen here, they'll take your ID and it isn't that they're unsure about it, but we like to converse with you a little," he explained. "So if you appear to be intoxicated, we might ask you, 'Are you doing OK tonight? Have you been around? Have you been to a lot of clubs tonight? Are you having a good time?' We may just pass you on on service that night (if you appear to be intoxicated)."
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