A proposed Michigan bill could lower the official drunk driving level to .05, which would make Michigan one of two states (including Utah) in the country to have a drunk driving threshold below the .08 norm. The legislation introduced in late March by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, has since seen leaping bounds of support throughout the entire state.
“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” said Rep. Hammoud in a recent news release. “As a former public health professional, I am motivated by facts and statistics, and as a legislator I know our current policies in place to prevent drunk driving aren’t working, which is why we must do more.”
Many other countries around the world have lowered their rates of drunk driving by lowering the legal driving BAC level to .05, and in 2013 the National Transportation Safety Board also suggested that every state lower the legal BAC level to .05. This is partly where Hammoud’s ‘Drink OR Drive’ campaign derived inspiration from to genuinely believe that Michigan constituents will not only pass these bills, but will truly benefit from the switch.
Hammoud has also cited studies that suggest that around 11% of all nationwide drunk driving fatalities (about 1,500 lives) would be saved if the entire country adopted this BAC reduction.
Here in Maryland we have the newly created Noah’s Law, which also strictly enforces DUI penalties and has largely expanded the presence of Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. Noah’s Law has been in effect since October 2016, and it largely requires convicted DUI drivers, DWI drivers with child passengers and DUI/DWI drivers who inflicted a life-threatening motor vehicle accident to utilize an ignition interlock device for a specifically mandated period of time.
Maryland’s general crackdown on drunk drivers over the past few years has instituted a significant increase in DUI punishments, but many local legislators throughout Maryland, D.C. and the Greater Virginia Area are currently looking to Michigan’s potential BAC legal limit decrease as an example to potentially follow to further prevent people from considering a drink or two before driving.
Another bill within Rep. Hammoud’s legislation package requires people who are convicted of their first DUI charge to utilize an ignition interlock device in order to continue driving. The main reason why Hammoud introduced this second bill is because of the fact that many people ignore their license suspensions after being convicted of drunk driving, and because studies have suggested it makes people much less likely to reoffend.
Hammoud was also inspired by the deaths of the Abbas family, who were killed by being impacted by a drunk driver going down the opposite direction on I-75 near Lexington, Kentucky.
“These proposals will help change behaviors, and they are backed by the science, and they are backed by the leading experts combating drunk driving across our country,” Hammoud said.
Some of the leading experts Hammoud cited include major groups like:
These groups are part of the team that has estimated an 11% decrease in fatal alcohol crashes across the country, if the entire country jumps on the lower BAC threshold bandwagon.
Helen Witty, the nationwide president for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is encouraging Michigan and many other states to adopt the .05 change.
“Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100% preventable crash,” Witty said. “We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.”
As of right now the only sponsors of this stricter DUI bill are Democrats, and it’s still uncertain as to whether or not Republicans nationwide will support these types of measures. The American Beverage Institute has publicly come out against Hammoud’s plan stating that the bills are
“shifting to those who enjoy a drink or two over dinner – a group that is not overrepresented in traffic accidents.”
In order for these proposed bills to become law, they will have to pass the Michigan state House, state Senate and then be signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The attorneys at DuBoff & Associates have ample experience dealing with victims of drunk driving accidents, so we fully believe that lowering legal BAC levels can potentially have a profound impact in terms of saving lives and keeping drivers safer on the road.Filed Under: