drunk driving

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Proposed Michigan Law Would Lower Legal BAC For Driving

March 21, 2019 - 3:18 pm
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(WWJ) There's a push to lower the threshold for drunken driving in Michigan.

State Representative Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is calling for blood alcohol concentration of .05 percent, instead of .08, to be considered impaired.

Hammoud is proposing legislation that would also require ignition interlocks for all drivers with a drunken-driving conviction, which would make Michigan the 34th state with an all-offender ignition interlock law.

“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” said Rep. Hammoud, in a statement. "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 are not working, which is why we must do more."

"The loss of the Abbas family, a beautiful family of five," he added -- referencing a Northville family killed on I-75 -- "a beautiful family of five, due to a drunk driver, has further motivated a community of advocates to step up and propose real solutions backed up by the scientific community. These critical proposals will do more to prevent drinking and driving, and ultimately save lives.”

If passed, Michigan would become the second state to lower the legal threshold for drunk driving. Utah is the only other state with a .05 law. 

MADD National President Helen Witty said this is th first time the group has advocated for lowering a state’s BAC law. 

“Today, we are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” said Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed by an impaired driver while rollerblading on a bike path. “Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100 percent preventable crash. We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.” 

So how many drinks could you drink and still be below .05? Because everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates, and many other factors -- including weight -- can affect BAC, there’s no exact formula.

In 2017, drunk driving killed almost 11,000 people in the U.S. — a 9 percent increase since 2014.