'Loaded' DUI bill fails in West Virginia

| 3/12/2003

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise’s touted 0.08 drunken driving proposal was turned down over the weekend as state Legislators passed on the bill before the legislative session ended Saturday.

HB2203 called for lowering the state’s blood-alcohol level for drunken driving from 0.10 percent blood alcohol content to 0.08 percent.

A 2000 federal law requires each state’s legislature to adopt the 0.08 limit by 2004 or lose 2 percent of its highway money.

The House of Delegates had put the drunken driving provision in the bill with other safety measures that some senators found unacceptable, the Charleston Daily Mail reported. Senate Transportation Chairman Mike Ross, D-Randolph, said March 7 that his committee wouldn’t sign off on the bill, even though failure to lower the blood-alcohol level could cost the state $2.5 million a year in federal highway dollars.

Provisions to prohibit children under age 16 from riding in the beds of pickup trucks and to make failure to wear a seat belt a primary rather than a secondary offense “bogged the whole bill down,” Ross told the newspaper, and it was too late in the session to separate the drunken driving provision from the rest of the bill.

West Virginia is among 16 states yet to adopt the tougher drunken driving standard.