"This recommendation is ludicrous," said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute. "Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior."
"Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel," she added.
The United States, Canada and Iraq are among a small handful of countries that have set the BAC level at .08. Most countries in Europe, including Russia, most of South America and Australia, have set BAC levels at .05 to constitute drunken driving.
When Australia dropped its BAC level from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic fatalities.
The NTSB reports that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions. At .07, cognitive abilities become impaired.
At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39 percent. At .08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100 percent.
The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to .05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year. It is also considering other steps to help bring down the death rates on America's roads.
The NTSB is an investigative agency that advocates on behalf of safety issues. It has no legal authority to order any change to state or federal law. It would be up to individual states whether to accept the NTSB's recommendation, and up to the Department of Transportation whether to endorse the recommendations.
The last move from .10 to .08 BAC levels took 21 years for each state to implement.