Police Chief, attorney discuss DWI on Austin morning show


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS


Posted on May 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Updated Thursday, May 23 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- In the United States, the legal limit for drinking and driving is a blood alcohol content of .08. However, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended lowering that to .05.

That proposal brought about an interesting discussion Thursday as Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and a DWI attorney sat in on an Austin radio show.

It led to a spirited discussion about DWI on KLBJ-FM’s Dudley and Bob Morning Show. 

Acevedo and Jamie Balagia, a former APD officer who is now an attorney, squared off over the proposal to lower the legal limit for drinking and driving.

“The presumption of .08 is just that a presumption. I'll take a bulldozer and shove that down somebody's throat in a courtroom,” Balagia said. “It's a presumption and .05 means everybody's going to jail.” 

Chief Acevedo says it's hard to get a conviction on drivers with .08. He believes convicting someone who blows a .05 would be even more difficult.

“Would .05 save lives? Absolutely. Is our nation, our cultural drinking ready for .05? No,” Acevedo said. “I don't think the country's ready. It's going to take a lot of education before we get there.”

As the discussion ramped up so did the drinking. Three of the radio personalities wanted to see how long it takes to get to .05. A breathalyzer was standing by.

Drunk drivers are to blame for more than a third of the 30,000 people killed each year on U.S. roads. Dozens of other countries have already adopted the .05 alcohol content standard or lower.

After about 30 minutes and three 4 ounce drinks, Carissa blew a .046. Matt blew a .05 after 2 drinks.

And after two drinks, Dale blew a .036. Of course, alcohol's effects are determined by height and weight.

But Balagia believes one thing is certain.

“If you drink and drive you better anticipate being pulled over, plan on it be prepared for it,” Balagia said.

Neither Acevedo nor Balagia took part in the drinking. The radio personalities that did all got a safe ride home.