State lawmaker: Lowering BAC limit for DUIs a needed fix after deadly year on roads

Mar 2, 2022, 1:15 PM | Updated: Mar 3, 2022, 7:09 am


State Sen. John Lovick. (Office of Sen. Lovick)

(Office of Sen. Lovick)

Should Washington lower the threshold for issuing DUIs? State Senator and former Washington State Trooper John Lovick believes it’s time, following a deadly year on the state’s roads.

State lawmakers introduce bill to lower BAC threshold for DUIs

Under a bill proposed by Sen. Lovick, the maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers would be lowered from 0.08% to 0.05%. That would bring Washington even with Utah as having the most stringent BAC limit in the nation.

As for why he’s putting this on the table now, Lovick points to a 31% increase in crashes caused by impaired drivers between 2020 and 2021.

“The bottom line is that deaths are going up on our highways and on our roads, and I’ve always felt that you shouldn’t have to die just trying to get from one place to another in our state,” he told KIRO Newsradio’s Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin. “Every 48 hours, three people die on our roads — that’s just unacceptable to me.”

Currently, Utah is the only state with a BAC limit at 0.05%, having made the change in 2019. Since then, Lovick says, significant improvements have been seen.

“When you look at the facts about the success they are experiencing in Utah, it’s making a difference,” he noted.

Utah has seen a 20% dip in fatal crashes since it lowered its legal limit, while 22% of drivers who drank alcohol reported changes in their behavior.

State troopers notice spike in DUI stops with children in the car

Whether the legal limit is 0.05% or 0.08%, Lovick’s message is simple: “If you’re going to drink, don’t drive.”

“What I always say to people is we’re not asking people to stop drinking, we’re just simply asking them to stop driving when they drink,” he said. “We’re not trying to criminalize your behavior, we’re saying take responsibility.”

Lovick’s bill has yet to progress through the Legislature but is awaiting a hearing in the state Senate’s Law & Justice Committee.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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