Washington, D.C. (March 3, 2021)—The full Hawaii Senate is set to soon consider SB 754—legislation that would lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving from 0.08 to 0.05 in the state. The 40 percent reduction would mean that some residents who consume little more than a single drink prior to driving could be subject to arrest. The American Beverage Institute (ABI)—a national restaurant trade association—strongly opposes the measure and urges lawmakers to review the science before voting.
As part of a campaign highlighting the ineffectiveness of a 0.05 law and the unintended consequences for consumers associated with the policy, ABI shared educational materials with every member of the Hawaii Senate leading up to the vote. View those documents here and here.
The American Beverage Institute released the following statement:
Watering down the legal definition of “drunk” is a poorly targeted approach to improve road safety in Hawaii. The vast majority of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities in the state involve people well above the current 0.08 standard—a group of criminals that is not addressed by lowering the BAC arrest level by 40 percent. As with any product, there is a clear distinction between use and abuse. Lawmakers should follow the science and focus on the latter.
While the safety benefits of a 0.05 policy are nil, the unintended consequences for individuals and businesses are sizable. The state hospitality and tourism industries are already struggling to survive amid the lingering pandemic. Making criminals out of their responsible consumers—who are less impaired at 0.05 BAC than when talking on a hands free cell phone—will make recovery even more challenging. Should lawmakers risk further economic deterioration for a policy that won’t improve road safety?