North Dakota bill targets drunken driving, highway dollars

| 3/17/2003

Legislation in the North Dakota Senate lowers the state’s legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers and at the same time retains federal highway dollars.

Under current state law, the standard for drunken driving is 0.10 percent blood alcohol content. HB1161 would cut the limit to 0.08, as mandated by a 2000 federal law.

Proponents said lowering the limit was necessary to avoid losing out on federal highway dollars.

If the state fails to lower the limit to 0.08, it will lose $32 million in federal road funds in the next four years, according to local media.

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.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, lowering North Dakota’s limit to 0.08 would reduce alcohol-related fatalities by 8 percent and save an estimated $2 per licensed driver.

The bill passed the House Feb. 13 by a 75 to 18 vote. It is in the Senate Transportation Committee. A hearing on the measure was scheduled for March 13.