Drunken-driving bill heads to Pennsylvania governor

| 10/1/2003

Only a few hours before a federal deadline elapsed, the Pennsylvania House unanimously sent to Gov. Ed Rendell a bill to toughen the state’s drunken driving law, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The House passed the measure Monday, Sept. 29, by a 201-0 vote. SB8 calls for lowering the blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, toughening penalties for drivers with especially high blood-alcohol levels and ensuring that the Pennsylvania Transportation Department has authority to install an ignition interlock device in the car of a repeat offender for one year.

The governor was expected to sign the bill Tuesday, Sept. 30. The Senate approved it last week 47-1.

Without the lower limit in place by Oct. 1, the state risks losing $11 million in federal transportation funds, or 2 percent of certain highway road dollars, the newspaper reported. The figure would increase to 8 percent – $41 million – if the standard were not adopted by 2007.

The bill sets up increasing levels of punishment for higher blood-alcohol levels – 0.08 to 0.099; 0.10 to 0.159; and 0.16 and up – all becoming more severe with each additional offense.

Once the bill is signed, the lower limit takes effect immediately, while most of the other provisions, including the tiered penalty system, would go into effect Feb. 1.