The National Transportation Safety Board has adopted a plan to urge states lower legal blood alcohol content from .08 to .05.
The NTSB has been studying how to restart a downward trend in drunken driving deaths, after a steady drop in fatalities stabilized in recent years.
The .05 standard has been shown to substantially reduce highway deaths in other countries.
The Board says new approaches are needed to combat drunken driving, which claims the lives of more than a third of the people killed each year on U.S. highways.
That level has remained consistent for the past 15 years.
"Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. "Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will."