State News

New bill would lower Michigan's drunk driving limit to .05

March 22, 2019, 7:46 AM by  Violet Ikonomova

A little less of this before driving if new bill is passed. (Photo: Deposit Photos)

A new bill in the Michigan House would reduce the state's drunk driving limit to .05 — one of the lowest levels in the country.

The Blood Alcohol Content limit proposed by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud mirrors recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Both groups have said the change would  save lives, and research confirms it. One study, by the University of Chicago and Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, found that alcohol-related driving fatalities fell by 10 percent between 1982 and 2014, after the U.S. dropped the legal limit from .10 to .08. Further lowering the legal limit from .08 to .05 could reduce fatal alcohol-related crashes by 11 percent, the researchers said — potentially 1,790 lives a year if adopted by all 50 states.

Developed countries including France and Germany have .05 limits. But in the U.S., the limit in nearly all states in .08 — already a reduction from the previous .1. Utah has been the only state to further lower its limit, dropping it to .05 in late December. 

If passed, the law would require many people to change their habits. Women weighing under 120 pounds, for example, would no longer be able to drive after a drink without risking arrest. You can check this chart to see roughly how many drinks you'd be able to have before hitting the proposed limit.

Hammoud's bill is paired with another that would require first time drunk drivers to put ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. Right now, it's only required in "superdrunk" cases, when blood alcohol content exceeds .15.

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