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Washington State Lawmakers Open to Lowering Legal Limit

On behalf of Donald Carter at Carter & Fulton, P.S.

Drinking and driving is a serious problem and when someone in Snohomish County chooses to engage in this kind of behavior, innocent lives can be at risk. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s collision database, 230 people died in alcohol-related accidents and 460 people suffered injuries that were deemed serious in 2010.

Tougher Laws for Drunk Driving

Washington State has recently taken a stronger stance against people who drink and drive. According to The Oregonian, lawmakers passed new legislation this year that will initiate a pilot program for daily alcohol monitoring on people with two DUI convictions and require ignition interlocks for people arrested on a second DUI charge. Lawmakers have indicated that further legislation will likely be introduced next year to add additional penalties on people convicted or charged with drunk driving.

One of those bills could propose a lower blood alcohol content level in the state, according to King 5 News, and one lawmaker actually submitted a bill this year; the bill appears to have been dropped as legislators finalized the details on the previously mentioned legislation. Even Gov. Jay Inslee has voiced that he would like to look at the issue but would not necessarily be against such a bill.

National Recommendation

The interest in lowering the blood alcohol content stems from a recent recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to NBC News, the NTSB feels that 1,000 lives could be saved in the U.S. every year if states would lower the BAC from 0.08 to 0.05. There appears to be a large amount of data supporting their claim including:

  • 4 million people admit to drinking and driving in the U.S. according to several studies.
  • The number of alcohol-related fatalities in the U.S. has dropped by half since states adopted the 0.08 BAC.
  • The U.S. is one of only a few countries that still allows people to drive with a BAC level of 0.08; the majority of countries in South America and Europe have a limit of 0.05.
  • Australia reported a drop in fatalities of 5–18 percent in its provinces after lowering their BAC to 0.05.
  • Every year it is estimated that around 10,000 people are killed in drunk-driving accidents.
  • People with a BAC of 0.05 or 0.07 can exhibit signs of impairment.

However, not everyone is in favor of lowering the legal limit. The National Beverage Institute has already voiced objection and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving is not behind the recommendation according to USA Today. The sentiment from some appears to be in favor of ignition interlocks over a lower BAC.

While ignition interlocks have proven successful in keeping inebriated people from driving, it should be remembered that any law which can save lives is worth the effort. If you are a victim of a drunk driver, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney in your area to learn how you can hold that person financially responsible for the damage they caused.

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