A senate bill introduced by the Committee of Transportation seeks to lower the threshold for drunken driving from the legal limit for a blood-alcohol level of .08 to .05.
This would put Hawaii as the second state to do so–after Utah did in 2018.
At the current nationally recognized threshold of .08, an average-sized person would be considered impaired after roughly three drinks. The same person would reach 0.05 after about two drinks.
Supporters of the bill say the law would save lives. According to the Hawaii Alcohol Policy Alliance, about 90 countries have lower alcohol-related traffic fatalities due to the adoption of a blood alcohol content of 0.05 or lower. Honolulu Police Traffic division reported twenty percent of O’ahu’s traffic deaths involved alcohol.
In a written testimony by the American Beverage Institute, SB 754 is a flawed approach to reduce fatalities in Hawaii, saying:
Two-thirds of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Hawaii involve someone with a BAC of 0.15 or above. That’s nearly double the BAC arrest level currently enforced. Additionally, the average BAC of a drunk driver involved in a fatal crash in the state is 0.18—nearly four-times the proposed 0.05 threshold. As with so many other products, there is a clear distinction between use and abuse.
The group also cites the devastation it will cause on the restaurant and hospitality business, already reeling during the pandemic.
The committee, Tuesday recommended the measure to be passed with no amendments.