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Lawmakers consider lowering BAC limit from .08 to .05

State News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two lawmakers are proposing to lower the state’s legal blood-alcohol limit for drinking and driving from .08 to .05. The bill has been introduced three times before and never made it out of committee, but the bill sponsors are optimistic this time around.  

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and Senator John Liu want New York to become the second state in the country to lower the blood alcohol limit to .05.

Opponents say no matter what the law is, not drinking and driving comes down to personal accountability.

“Unfortunately, common sense isn’t as common as we would like it to be,” Liu said. “There is no excuse for having too many drinks and then getting behind the wheel.”

“So sometimes we have to control those behaviors by regulating,” said Ortiz.

They argue that countries like Canada, France, and Germany that have a .05 BAC see fewer drunk driving crashes despite similar alcohol consumption. But the American Beverage Institute has called the push for a lower limit “criminalizing perfectly responsible behavior” – some local bar owners.

“We’re not trying to be puritans here; it’s still ok to have a drink or two,” said Liu.

In fact, a study published in the Traffic Prevention Injury journal found it took at least four drinks for the average 170 pound man in two hours to exceed .05, and three drinks for a 137 pound female in two hours. Drinking the same amount in just one hour would exceed the .08 threshold.

Despite not going anywhere in the past, Ortiz says the bill has potential this legislative session, and he wants it taken seriously.  

Vermont lawmakers are also looking at lowering the legal limit with a bill just introduced in the senate. Right now, Utah is the only state to have lowered it to .05.

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