May 14, 2013 11:36 PM by Erin Steuber
Today, a bold recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board concerning drunk driving. The board is recommending states change the standard for drunk driving from .08 down to .05. The hope is lowering the legal limit can save thousands of lives.
And in a state that loves to party, Lafayette Parish ranks the absolute worst in the state, when it comes to alcohol related crashes. According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, so far in 2013: There've been 99 crashes involving alcohol, seven of those were fatal. For some families these are more than numbers, they are loved ones.
"We are a party area, we party here, we celebrate life. Unfortunately, sometimes in that celebration it takes life," said Cathy Sonnier.
Just before Thanksgiving, that nightmare became a reality for Sonnier and her family when her 22-year-old daughter, Rachael Sonnier, was killed by a drunk driver. Rachael leaves behind her son Caiden, who is now 4 years old.
"Our entire world was in the vehicle that night; Our only daughter, our only son, our only grandson. Our son is only now recovering from facial fractures, hoping the brain damage clears up in a year or two," said Sonnier. "My daughter's world revolved around her son. It has bee very difficult on him to understand mommy's an angel in heaven now."
The new recommendations would lower the limit, when you would be considered "legally drunk". Studies show, in an hour, a woman weighing less than 120 pounds could reach that new limit after just one drink. A 160 pound man, after two drinks.
"Maybe it will help get people to realize that it really doesn't take that much to drink to be too drunk to drive, to be too impaired to drive," said Sonnier.
Research shows the lower level would save thousands of lives a year .
"We actively look for impaired drivers on a regular basis here in the City of Lafayette," said Cpl. Paul Mouton with the Lafayette Police Department. "The best practice if you're going to consume any alcohol at all, is not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. There is no way to determine what is the right amount of alcohol you can consume and still be under the legal limit."