As everyone knows, each state has the right to enact DUI laws it feels appropriate for its citizens. The federal government has no authority to dictate to the state legislatures what those laws should be.
That’s the theory. The reality is that federal bureaucrats routinely coerce states by threatening to withhold badly-needed federal funds. And this approach has frequently been used where drunk driving laws are involved. Result: almost all states have now lowered their blood-alcohol limits to .08%, passed per se laws (illegal to drive with .08% blood-alcohol even if sober), required automatic license suspensions by the arresting officer, and imposed "zero tolerance" (.01 or .02%) on drivers under 21.
In today’s news:
Bill Would Nix DUI Offenders’ Ability to Drive to Probation Appointments
Lincoln, NE. March 13 — This year, about 2,000 Nebraskans convicted of drunk driving will use ignition interlock devices so they can drive to work, school, alcohol treatment and probation appointments.
But after July 15, they will have to get rides, walk or bike to meet with their probation officers.
The federal government says allowing people with these special permits to drive to probation appointments strays beyond federal regulation. And Nebraska could lose as much as $7.15 million in federal funds a year if senators don’t change the law.
State senators on Friday gave first-round approval to the bill (LB924) that would remove probation appointments as acceptable destinations for people convicted of drunk driving who have the special permits.
"This truly shows the disconnect with the feds," said Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, chairwoman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. "Some bureaucrat has decided people don’t need to drive to probation appointments."
The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles thought allowing people to drive to probation appointments was logical — part of the rehabilitative process, like driving to alcohol treatment programs. So senators included it in the law covering the ignition interlock program.
Federal bureaucrats thought otherwise…