“Our fight is not with the alcohol industry; it is just about not getting behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking.”
Back in 1990, the legal blood alcohol limit in California was lowered from .10 to .08. It was lowered in the hopes of reducing the number of alcohol-related traffic incidents within the state. While these efforts have produced positive results, there is still much that needs to be improved. In 2016, California had 3,995 traffic fatalities with around thirty percent of them involving BAC levels of .08 or more.
And now, there comes another push to lower the BAC level even more. On February 22, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke introduced a new bill – AB 1713, also known as Liam’s Law. The bill would change the BAC limit to .05, along with corresponding adjustments. Burke and Assemblyman Heath Flora authored the bill, with the help of state Senator Jerry Hill who co-authored it.
This proposal comes after various pushes for change in DUI laws, one of the most prominent coming from Marcus Kowal and his wife Mishel Eder. Their 15-month old son, Liam, was killed by a drunk driver in 2016 as his aunt was pushing him in a stroller across a street.
But as they have stated before, they aren’t trying to combat the alcohol industry; their goal is to save lives. They believe that the U.S. drinking culture needs to view drunken driving more severely and respond accordingly. Thousands of people are killed around the country in incidents that could’ve been avoided, if people refrained from drunk driving.
According to Flora, dropping the BAC level to .05 acts as a warning to people to reconsider driving drunk. This has been shown to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths. The National Transportation Safety Board predicts that a .05 DUI level across the U.S. would save 1,500 lives a year. Starting this year, Utah started implementing the lower limit, so it will be important to observe how the revision works. Other states have been considering similar proposals as well.
The first official discussion for AB 1713 will take place some time in late March.