Proposed Michigan law would lower legal BAC, require ignition interlocks for drunk drivers

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A proposed law in the Michigan Legislature would lower the threshold for impaired driving in the state and require ignition interlocks for all offenders.

Michigan Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, along with traffic safety partners and MADD, are supporting a proposed state law that lowers the threshold for impaired driving in Michigan to .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It's currently .08. 

“Today, we are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100 percent preventable crash. We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.” 

If passed, Michigan would become the second state to lower the legal threshold for drunk driving. In December, Utah became the first state in the nation with a .05 BAC law. 

“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” said Representative Hammoud. “As a former public health professional, I am motivated by facts and statistics, and as a legislator I know our current policies in place to prevent drunk driving are not working, which is why we must do more. The loss of the Abbas family, a beautiful family of five, due to a drunk driver, has further motivated a community of advocates to step up and propose real solutions backed up by the scientific community. These critical proposals will do more to prevent drinking and driving, and ultimately save lives.”

Drunk driving is still the leading killer on our roads, and the numbers are going the wrong way. In 2017 alone, drunk driving killed almost 11,000 people — a 9 percent increase since 2014, when the number of people killed by drunk driving had dropped below 10,000. 

The American Beverage Institute released a statement in opposition to the proposed bill:

Since the National Transportation Safety Board first recommended that all states lower the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving by 40 percent from 0.08 to 0.05 BAC, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has maintained its support for the current federal legal limit. They have opposed this new position—saying “we have no intention of going below 0.08.” While their past position has now changed, the facts supporting current law remain the same.

MADD’s focus is now shifting to those who enjoy a drink or two over dinner—a group that is not overrepresented in traffic accidents. It’s disappointing to see MADD capitulate to the pressures of anti-alcohol activists—who will now actively demonize moderate and responsible consumers.  

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