ALBANY — A pair of New York lawmakers want to lower the legal limit for drivers’ blood alcohol content.
Currently, the legal driving blood alcohol limit .08, reflecting the percentage of alcohol, by volume, in the blood.
But Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) and Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) want to lower the legal limit required for driving while intoxicated to .05, and for aggravated driving while intoxicated from .18 to .12.
“This bill is about bringing loved ones home safely,” Ortiz told the Daily News. “Reducing the BAC limit from .08 to .05 in New York will save lives. It’s common sense legislation.”
A memo accompanying the bill notes that each year nearly 10,000 people are killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers and more than 173,000 are injured.
Since the mid-1990s, the proportion of deaths from accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers has remained constant at around 30% of all highway fatalities. In total, nearly 440,000 people have died in alcohol related crashes.
“No one should have to suffer from the loss or injury of a loved one due to a driver impaired by alcohol. We have an obligation to make the roads safer for all travelers,” Ortiz added.
While all 50 states now have at least BAC level of .08, the National Transportation Safety Board recently issued a recommendation encouraging state to lower the blood alcohol content that constitutes drunk driving. Utah became the first state to lower the mark to .05 in 2018.
The American Beverage Institute, a D.C.-based trade group, strongly opposes such measures, noting on their website that “the move is an attack on the restaurant and hospitality industries and converts their responsible customers into criminals.”