Proposed Legislation Would Reduce the Legal Blood Alcohol Level for Motorists in Michigan
Posted: Jan 05, 2020
Michigan lawmakers are considering a piece of legislation that would significantly alter the state’s drunk driving laws and potential punishments for motorists convicted of a DUI.
The proposed law, HB 4420-2, would lower the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for a motorist from.08 to.05, thereby placing Michigan alongside Utah as the only two states with such a strict BAC standard. In addition to lowering the legal BAC level for drivers, HB 4420-2 would also institute harsher penalties for intoxicated drivers. For example, if a driver is convicted of a DUI, they would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, even if they are convicted of having a BAC slightly above the new, lower level of 0.05.
The proposed legislation was sponsored by State Representative Abdullah Hammoud. While announcing the draft legislation, Rep. Hammoud stated in no uncertain terms that his overarching objective is not to just eliminate drunk driving, but to essentially eliminate the risk that someone who has consumed any alcohol gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, according to The Detroit News.
"Drink, or drive," said Rep. Hammoud. "Choose one. It should never be both."
Proposed Legislation Supported by Interest Groups
Rep. Hammoud’s proposed modifications to Michigan’s drunk driving laws received support from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. For example, the NTSB made a similar policy recommendation to drop the legal BAC level back in 2013 and have publicly stated that such a reduction in the legal BAC for motorists could potentially reduce drunk driving deaths by 11 percent.
Rep. Hammoud and supporters of the proposed legislation point to research showing that critical driving skills are impacted when a motorist has a BAC level of.05 or higher. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that when a motorist has a BAC level of 0.05, there are noticeable declines in coordination, vision, steering, and emergency response.
Drunk Driving Remains Serious Safety Issue
A major reason why Michigan lawmakers are looking at the state’s drunk driving laws is the concerning increase in fatalities caused by intoxicated motorists. For example, in 2017, close to 11,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents. This represents a 9 percent increase in drunk driving deaths when compared to data from 2014, according to clickondetroit.com.
Proposed Legislation is Not the Law of the Land
It is worth noting that HB 4420-2 is just a proposal and not the actual law in Michigan. As of the date this article was published, the legal drinking limit in Michigan remains at 0.08. It is unclear whether HB-440-2 will gain enough traction in the state legislature to receive the requisite votes needed for passage or receive the support of Michigan’s Governor.
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George Anderson is a freelance writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. I love reading, outdoor activities, traveling and staying current with new trends