The legal limit to drive without getting a DWI in New York State is currently .08.  But lawmakers are hoping new legislation will drop that even lower.

Can you do the math?  How many drinks can you have and safely drive home?  Take that number and subtract a couple if some proposed legislation gets passed.  If it does, it will become a little more likely that you'll get a DWI if you choose to drink and drive because they're hoping to make it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .05 or higher.

How many drinks will give you a .05 BAC?

There are a lot of factors that could affect your BAC.  Your age, your weight, and your sex are just a couple of them.  The strength of the drink and how quickly you've been drinking will do it too. According to the National Institutes of Health, "It takes at least four drinks for an average 170-pound male to exceed 0.05 BAC in 2 hours on an empty stomach (three drinks for a 137-pound female).

This chart will give you an estimation too.  But remember, it all depends on the individual.

Why should New York's BAC limit be lowered?

The answer is that people are still driving drunk.  According to a press release about the legislation, "Each year nearly 10,000 people are killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and nearly 173,000 are injured."  It's proven to help in Utah, the only other state that has a limit of .05 at the moment.  They lowered their limit in 2019 and saw drunk driving deaths reduced by nearly 20 percent.

Won't a lower limit affect bars and restaurants?

Bars and restaurants will often cut people off when they believe they've had too much because they don't want to be liable for injuries or deaths caused by one of their patrons.  So it will definitely be a learning curve for them.  Can you tell the difference between .05% and .08% by looking at someone?

Ultimately it is the patron's responsibility.

"Studies have shown that lowering legal BAC limits does not lead to an increase in arrests or a burden on the criminal justice system, nor does it cause undue damage to the hospitality industry. In fact, a new Utah study showed state revenues from taxes continue to rise, and tourism increase." - NYS Senate Press Release


Is it even worth it to go out and drink anymore then?

This law isn't saying that you have to drink less.  It's saying that if you're going to drink, don't drive.  It's simple as that.  There are so many ways of getting around these days, if you want to drink, do it responsibly.  Get a ride home either from a friend or a ride-share service.

Click here if you'd like to see more on the legislation (S776 (Liu) and A1627 (Simon))


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