Bill to lower Iowa's drunken driving standard advances

| 3/14/2003

SF37, a bill in Iowa that would lower the standard from drunken driving from 0.10 to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, is before the full Senate, awaiting debate and a vote.

According to a spokeswoman at the General Assembly, the bill has been combined into another measure, HF65, and placed under “unfinished business,” which means it can be called for debate or have amendments added at any time. To become law, the measure has to pass the Senate, be transferred to the House and go through committee by April 11.

Iowa officials, meanwhile, have contacted federal officials to see if the bill meets federal requirements for lowering the drunken driving standard, the spokeswoman said. Iowa defines the standard for drunken driving as 0.10 percent blood alcohol content. But 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. Iowa would forfeit about $47 million in federal highway funds if it fails to act, The Quad-City Times reported. States that adopt the new limit by 2007 can recover the withheld funds.

Another bill that would lower the limit, HF43, was referred to the Public Safety Committee in the House Jan. 22, but it has not been acted on further since it entered that committee.