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BAC level drop could affect Miss. law enforcement

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Updated: 5/17/2013 9:47 am
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Each year nearly 10,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic incidents, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Startling statistics like that make Tuesday's NTSB announcement to drop the nationwide blood-alcohol content level to .05 a no-brainer.

Still, Tupelo Police Lt. Marty Mask says that's a big step.

"It took us about 20 years to get from 0.10 to 0.08, so I think it's going to be a tough sell to get the states to change," Mask said. "I think it's going to take a little while."

Mask said if Mississippi did adopt the recommendation, it would definitely affect Tupelo's case loads and arrests.

But Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Roe said they'd be able to handle it.

"Our troopers are well-trained; they're proficient in making an arrest. They know how to manage their time," Roe said.

Here's something else: the risk of crashing increases significantly after someone passes .05, according to Roe.

"You're [twice as] likely to have a crash at .08 than you are at .05," Roe added.

How much does it take to drink to get a blood-alcohol level of .05? For the average person, that's the equivalent of two beers or two mixed drinks.

Local business owners who declined to comment on camera say they fear they'd likely lose money as well, because people wouldn't be able to drink as much.

Still, that is not what local law enforcement is saying. Their stance is simple: if you're old enough, drink if you want, but don't get behind the wheel once you do.

"It's ultimately not about locking folks up and taking them to jail," Mask said. "It's about protecting and serving, and saving lives. That's our main goal."

WTVA News reached out to several people at local establishments to give their opinions.

Though none wanted to comment on camera, all of them said they were against it.

One individual said it should be a personal decision.

Mississippi has not yet passed any legislation regarding a blood-alcohol content change.
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