Changes to legal drinking limit standard

Andrea Medeiros

That one glass of wine out at dinner might now be enough to get you charged with drunk driving, from .08 to .05.

That's all it would take to be considered “drunk” behind the wheel. For most people that's a glass of wine or a couple of beers. The federal government claims it would save thousands of lives, but folks in the  restaurant and bar industries think it would kill their businesses.

 Amici Bar and Grille gets 70 percent of its money from alcohol sales. Lower the blood alcohol limit, and managers say they'll lose half their sales and will be forced to close their doors.

One drink for a woman weighing less than 120 pounds, two for a 180-pound man. That could soon be enough to get you charged with drunk driving.

“It's a mistake. There's no need for that,” said one bar-goer, “It seems to be a growing trend of taking away people's rights.”

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to cut the legal blood alcohol limit by nearly half from its current .08 down to .05.  

“That would drastically affect us, being that we sell 70 percent liquor and 30 percent food. I think along with is most restaurants would probably be out of business,” said Amici Bar and Grille manager Devin Arsenault.

She says the restaurant usually makes 2000 dollars in alcohol sales on a Tuesday night, likely to be cut in half with the new standard.

“I don't know if a lot of people would be going out to drink,” said Arsenault, “They would probably just get a bottle and stay at home.”

Arsenault is just hoping Rhode Island lawmakers choose not to pass the .05 limit, much of the industrialized world has already adopted. Restaurant-goers are torn on whether changing the legal limit would actually curb drunk driving. “

If that's a way to make that happen that's great,” said one restaurant-goer.

“A lot of the people who are killing people are well above .08,” said another restaurant-goer.

Each state can decide whether it'll follow the NTSB recommendations and lower the legal drinking limit.