Wash. could lower blood alcohol level for DUI cases, just not this year

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 6:16 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Lawmakers in Washington state are willing to look at lowering the blood alcohol level for prosecuting drunk driving cases, but not during the current special session.

The federal government’s National Transportation Safety Board wants all 50 states to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) from .08 to .05.

The NTSB estimates the change could save 1,000 lives a year.

“We’re going to get on this bandwagon,” said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.

Roach submitted a bill this year to lower the level, but it was not included in legislation proposing changes to several drunk driving-related laws.

A Senate committee passed the DUI reform package Tuesday, expanding the use of interlock ignition devices and creating longer sentences and new forms of treatment for repeat offenders.

Committee Chair Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, said changing the threshold for a DUI might be considered during next year’s legislative session.

Governor Jay Inslee, D-Washington, who said reforming DUI laws is one of his priorities for the special session, said he would not rule out supporting a bill to lower the threshold.

Inslee said he would want to look into the issue.

“We have challenges today prosecuting, jailing, providing treatment and probation services for the folks who are in the net today,” said Inslee.
 

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