On December 30th, Utah became the first state to lower the limit for driving under the influence of alcohol from .08 to .05 percent. Now a bill in the Oregon Senate aims to make that state number two.
Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem and president of the Oregon Senate is gearing up to introduce a bill to replicate the new Utah law. Opposition will be fierce, led of course by the alcohol beverage industry, but also likely opposed by tourism groups, restaurants, taverns and the hospitality industry among other. Spokesman Jackson Shedelbower from the American Beverage Institute, which represents restaurants and beer, wine and spirits producers, said in an article in the Oregonian that most fatal crashes are caused by drivers who drink high volumes of alcohol or are have had repeat DUIIs. He thinks any new legislation should focus on those drivers. Shedelbower points to statistics circulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that say 70 percent of alcohol-impaired fatalities involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol content of .15 percent or higher. “That’s three times a .05 percent BAC,” Shedelbower said.
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging all 50 states lower their limits to .05 percent for the past five years. That would result an 11 percent decline in fatal crashes, saving nearly 1,800 lives a year, according to estimates. This is likely a movement we will see take place across the country for years to come.