Legislators will re-file bill to lower state’s drunk-driving limit
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — State Sens. Marko Liias and John Lovick would like to lower the state’s legal drunk-driving impairment limit to 0.05% blood-alcohol concentration.
It would make Washington one of two states with the strictest blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limits nationwide. Utah already has a 0.05% BAC limit. All other states have a 0.08% BAC.
Lovick told the Tribune that he and Liias will be among the senators co-sponsoring this bill for the next legislative session.
2021 was Washington state’s worst year in 20 years for traffic fatalities with 663 on-the-road deaths, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission reported. 2022’s trend isn’t looking much better, Lovick said.
Lowering the limit could have a profound impact on reducing DUIs.
At a Sept. 27 worksession on DUIs which Lovick attended, leaders from Utah explained how their reduced limit is working.
People who had alcohol simply became more wary of the stricter limit and chose to not get behind the wheel. He also heard the lower limit didn’t hurt alcohol sales at restaurants or bars there.
A 2023 bill to lower the limit is already being planned to be introduced in the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee. Lovick said committee members he’s talked with are “ready to go for it.”
He’s also talking with lawmakers in the state House about the planned bill.
“I’m confident we will get it through the process” of advancing during 2023’s legislative session, Lovick, a Mill Creek Democrat, said.
Lovick and Liias, an Everett Democrat, introduced a similar bill last year that didn’t gain traction. Lovick said that’s because it was introduced in the later weeks of the legislative session and couldn’t get a hearing date.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) honored both legislators this month among its Legislators of the Year for trying to lower the limit. MADD says that “according to the National Safety Council, the crash risk of someone driving at a 0.05 BAC level increases by 40%” even though this is under the state’s 0.08 legal limit.
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