States could lose federal highway dollars if DUI limits not lowered

| Wednesday, January 15, 2003

About 20 states could lose millions of highway construction dollars if they do not pass a law lowering the legal limits for impaired driving before October.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will impose sanctions on states that do not comply with the national trend of lowering the legal limits for impaired drivers to a 0.08 blood-alcohol content.

For example, if the West Virginia Legislature does not lower the limit during this session, it will lose the $2.6 million in highway funds it currently receives, The Herald-Dispatch reports. If Ohio fails to enact 0.08 legislation, it will forfeit $11.9 million in grants from its highway budget for next year, according to the paper.

Both Ohio and West Virginia allow a 0.10 blood-alcohol content limit. However, NHTSA’s penalty stiffens each year states go without lowering the limit to 0.08.

Statistics show reducing the limits for blood-alcohol content could reduce the number of lives lost each year to DUI crashes, according to NHTSA. The government estimates that 500 lives would be saved each year if every state passes 0.08 legislation. NHTSA said 17,448 people died in crashes involving alcohol in 2001.

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