Statesman Examiner

State Mulls Dropping BAC Limit

- By Staff Reports / For The Statesman

Washington had nearly 750 traffic fatalities this year, the highest in over three decades. Over half were caused by drivers who were under the influence. Lawmakers are now pushing for a bill that will lower the blood alcohol concentrat­ion limit for Washington drivers.

The bill heard last month would lower the breath or blood alcohol concentrat­ion limit for driving from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent. This would make Washington only the second state to have limits this strict.

Utah lowered its BAC limit to 0.05% in 2018. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administra­tion, the state’s fatal crash rate fell by almost 20 percent in 2019. DUI arrests fell by over 300 compared to the year before.

Since Utah’s changed law, drivers reported using rideshares, which can explain the decrease in arrests and fatal crashes.

Impaired drivers can still be charged with a DUI in Washington even if they register below a 0.08 percent BAC, but supporters of this bill want more robust measures.

Encouragin­g legislatio­n to lower the BAC limit to 0.05 percent would motivate drivers to be safe, referencin­g the change in Utah and the positive trend of fatal crashes and DUI arrest numbers.

Critics of the bill voiced worries about its impact on liquor license holders and the overall beverage service sector.

Establishm­ents that serve customers too much can face penalties, fines, and criminal charges. Their employees receive training by national guidelines to detect signs of intoxicati­on at a BAC of 0.08 percent. However, there are concerns about the difficulty in identifyin­g these signs at a BAC of 0.05 percent.

Senate Bill 5002 cleared committee last month and had its second public hearing last week.

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