Federal Pressure on States to Lower Limit to .05% “Falling Flat”

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on July 16th, 2013

I've posted recently about the Federal government's attempt to pressure the states to lower the blood-alcohol level from .08% to .05%.  See Federal Agency Recommends New DUI Limit: .05% and Reactions to the Fed's New .05% Limit   Presumably, the Feds intend to follow the same tactic as they did in eventually getting all states to lower the BAC level from .10% to .08%:  threaten them with the withholding of all highway funds.

If a recent meeting of the governors of those states is any indication, the bullying approach may not work.  From yesterday's Washington Times:  

Federal Push to Lower DUI Levels Falls Flat with States

Washington, DC.  July 15 — A federal attempt to lower driving-under-the-influence blood alcohol limits is falling flat in the states and even groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are not advocating for it.

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending the legal limit drop from .08 to .05. The justification: Drivers with .08 alcohol levels have twice the chance of getting in a wreck as drivers with .05 levels.

But MADD isn’t endorsing — and neither is the Governors Highway Safety Association, The Hill reported.

“We don’t see any state going to .05,” said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director for the governor’s safety group, in The Hill. “This doesn’t seem to be getting any traction.”

States would have to approve any laws to lower the limit.

And Indiana state Rep. Terri Austin said that doesn’t look likely.

“I think legislators are going to want to have a pretty compelling case,” he said, in The Hill.

You know the Feds are in trouble when even MADD is not supporting the lower level.  But don't discount the power of bureaucrats when they hold the purse strings.

  • Art

    If MADD is not endorsing the .05, it’s because that is too much a drop, too fast. Since MADD exists solely to perpetuate the inflated salaries of its executives, not to actually promote highway safety, they call the shots and the legislators are supposed to follow like the sheep they are. The BAC drop needs to be lowered gradually, or they will soon be to a legal limit of .00, then MADD will no longer have a platform to preach their hypocrisy from.

    MADD would prefer first a .07, then they will claim “Still, even at .07, we continue to have thousands of needless deaths caused by the violent acts of drunk drivers”. Then they will demand .06, then so on.

    And for the record, MADD ought to be renamed DADD, since it’s operated mostly by men, now. Even the founder of MADD, Candace Lightner, quit MADD once it stopped focusing on drivers with BAC over .15 (she focused on that level because that is the REAL BAC in which accidents and deaths are alcohol related) and instead become neo-prohibitionist.

    “Mr. Howarth, how many fatal accidents do cell phone users cause every year versus drunk drivers?” “I have absolutely no idea, nor do I care.” – Brian Williams and MADD lobbyist Tom Howarth, MSNBC, March 4, 1998.

    It’s estimated that half of all teenage driving deaths are caused by texting while driving.

  • Art

    Thank goodness they’re going after those violent drunk drivers- I feel much safer!:

    There are millions of outstanding felony warrants outstanding across the United States, (with about 2000 for murder) however- there are no resources available (nor is there any urgency to do so) to track those people down in order to protect the public safety. In fact, that figure might be much higher, according to the FBI, since states don’t want to spend the money on paperwork (or extradition of out of locale criminals) to enter those warrants into databases. Massachusetts has 70,000 outstanding felony warrants, yet only 2700 have been entered into the FBI National Crime Information Center. However there are 13,000 people in that state arrested every year for DUI, oftentimes by officers being paid overtime to man DUI roadblocks.

  • Andre Smith

    They are just afraid that the major public backlash from such a steep drop (we are talking making criminals out of two guys sharing a 60oz pitcher after a long hot day at work and on the way home) will cause the larger majority of the public to re-examine the DUI laws as a whole, which has a real chance of re-setting the national per se cutoff at .10 or higher (unless impairment is clearly evident).

  • Art

    Most municipalities collect up to a whopping 40% of their revenue from alcohol permits, alcohol sales taxes, per drink taxes in bars, and other alcohol related income. Small wonder they need to balance their push to get people to drink more and more, and to drink and drive more and more, with their ability to arrest more and more people for DUI, which is another alcohol ‘tax’, but the biggest. They realize that if they push people too far, such as by a .05 BAC, people might wake up and realize that all those alcohol taxes have become excessive- then they will buy less alcohol, drive less after drinking, and otherwise hurt the states alcohol tax revenue.

    Much like tobacco, the states claim it’s a nasty habit, yet they profit several dollars off every pack of cigarettes sold.

    And as far as medical marijuana, that’s only passing in more states as they realize they will get lots of taxes from the sale of pot, and also- states are now contemplating ‘drug DUI’ laws that include the mere presence of metabolites (look to Arizona, as an example) as ‘drunk by way of drugs’. So, if you smoked a “legal” joint 3 weeks prior, and get caught at a roadblock, and are forced to give blood- that 3 week ago joint will get you arrested for DUI. Voila? MORE TAXES.

    Wake up people. If you don’t care about your own freedom, then consider the direction this country is heading for your children, their children, and so forth.

  • Art

    The Psychotic State of Our Union:

    Richard Simard, a New Hampshire liquor commissioner, was arrested for DUI after refusing a breathalyzer. When he took office he expected to boost sales tax revenue from alcohol sales. He was removed from the job after his DUI arrest.

    The state of Kansas has cut funding for treatment of repeat DUI offenders by 70%.

    Fred Swain, head of Utah’s anti drunk driving squad, was arrested for DUI. He had appeared on anti drunk driving posters, and announced crackdowns on drunk drivers at several police conferences. He said he ran off the road and crashed into a concrete barrier only because he had been talking on his cell phone, but his BAC was 0.16, twice the legal limit.

    Montana State Representative Allen Hale, a tavern owner, condones drinking and driving as an American ‘right’.

    Lawrence Ponoroff, Dean of the University of Arizona law school, was arrested for DUI (and speeding) in September, 2011, with a BAC of 0.47% (half the legal limit), but the charge was later dismissed. When he finally pulled over, over a mile after he was ordered to, his shirt was on inside out. He was charged $150 for speeding. His lawyer said “Contrary to public opinion, is it not illegal to drink and drive”.

    A frightening new tool of law enforcement is the passive alcohol detector- these are small devices that can be attached to a clipboard or a flashlight to ‘read’ the alcohol present in the ambient air in your vehicle, from as far as a few feet away. The results may be used either as grounds to ask you to perform field sobriety tests, or as evidence to help convict you of a DUI.

  • This is an interesting topic, it is also important to note that there is no distinction between misdemeanors and felonies in Canada, therefore a reckless driving offence may be considered a DUI offence in Canada. A DUI or other offence will prevent you from entering Canada, if you have questions about your admissibility to Canada contact FWCanada.

  • Bryan

    .05 should be the standard in all the Western World… In most of Europe and in Australia it’s already .05

    I personally feel kind of buzzed even at .03, so I guess .05 is a good limit.

    For example in France, the infraction DUI is at .05 while the misdemeanor one is at .08, which i think is logical.

  • Bill in IL

    So Bryan, because you feel “buzzed” at .03 you feel you have the right to force everyone else to be lowered to your standards at the point of a government gun? I don’t care what they are doing in Europe or Australia, they can enjoy living in a draconian hell hole if they wish, none of my business. And you have the nerve to call yourself an American?

    On the lowering to .05, they can’t pass it, so they are passing laws that allow the officer to charge you with DUI if they “feel” you are impaired. Then they don’t have to worry about any arbitrary limit.