By Scott Bolthouse | The Huron Hub |
Published March 26, 2019 — 9:00 a.m. EST
State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) announced last week legislation that would lower Michigan’s blood alcohol concentration threshold and would require ignition interlock devices for all first time convicted drunk drivers.
The bill would lower the state’s drunk driving limit from .08 blood alcohol concentration to .05.
The only state that requires a BAC that low is Utah.
“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” Hammoud said during a press conference last week. “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.”
According to officials, studies show impairment at BAC levels below .08 is significant, adding seconds to response time, and in the case of traffic scenarios, is often the difference between life and death.
According to the Michigan State Police, alcohol and drug-related fatal crashes remain a major traffic safety issue, with approximately 44.9 percent of total fatal crashes related to alcohol or drug impairment.
A .05 BAC would result in an estimated 11 percent decline in fatal alcohol crashes and save approximately 1500 lives annually in the United States, according to MSP.
Studies also show an interlock device is more effective than a suspended license alone, as 50-75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
Hammoud was joined at the press conference by representatives from a number of groups, including Helen Witty, national president, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“Today, we are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” said Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter Helen Marie was killed by a drunk and marijuana-impaired driver while rollerblading on a bike path. “Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at 0.05 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.”
In addition to Ms. Witty, Rep. Hammoud was joined by Nicholas J. Smith, National Safety Council Interim President and CEO, Jennifer Homendy, National Transportation and Safety Board Member and Tara Gill, Senior Director of Advocacy and State Legislation for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.