Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina del Rey, has introduced a bill that would lower the threshold for driving under the influence (DUI) from the current 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent. According to a report in The Orange County Register, the bill, AB 1713 is called Liam’s Law in memory of a 15-month-old boy who in 2016, was struck and killed by a drunk driver as his aunt pushed his stroller across a street in Hawthorne. Liam’s parents, former mixed martial arts fighter Marcus Kowal and his wife, Mishel Eder, have led the crusade for a lower alcohol limit as one way to reduce the number of DUI traffic deaths in California.
How the Law Could Help
California’s general blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit since 1990 has been 0.08. The limit for commercial drivers is 0.04 and people under age 21 can be charged with impaired driving at a BAC of 0.01. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends the 0.05 standard in every U.S. state. In most other states and in the District of Columbia, the current limit is 0.08 percent. The NTSB says such a reduction will help save 1,500 lives a year nationwide. Utah became the first state to implement a 0.05 limit on Jan.1 and similar bills have been introduced in New York and Oregon.
Estimates show that reaching the 0.08 percent limit takes four drinks for an average-size American man and three drinks for a woman. Reaching 0.05 would take three drinks for the average man and two for an average woman. Smaller people can become intoxicated by consuming even fewer drinks. So, will the bill pass in California? Some say it’s not so easy.
Opponents say the law is not tough on drunk drivers, but punishes moderate, social drinkers, taking traffic safety resources away from individuals who pose serious dangers. But supporters say it will reduce the number of drunk individuals on the street, making California’s roads safer.
Reducing DUI Deaths
Our California DUI victims’ lawyers have always supported laws that could help bring down the number of traffic accident deaths. In our view, if you’ve been drinking, you should not be driving, period. Even moderate amounts of alcohol have been shown to affect drivers’ skills and perception. You don’t have to hit that 0.08 percent BAC limit to become impaired while driving. If this law can save the lives of 1,500 people each year across the United States, it is important that we advocate for its passage.