Nevada pursues highway dollars, lower drunken driving standard

| Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The threat of losing $28 million in federal highway funds could help a Nevada lawmaker’s proposal to lower the state’s legal blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 percent pass the state Legislature, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

AB7, introduced by Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, lowers the standard for drunken driving in the state from 0.10 percent blood alcohol content to 0.08.

The bill has an $82,000 cost to the state Department of Corrections included with it over two years due to an expected increase in the number of inmates sent to prison for driving under the influence, the newspaper reported. The cost is based on one additional inmate being sent to prison every four months for a three-year sentence.

Those costs pale, however, when compared with the penalties Nevada would incur beginning next year from the federal government if the limit is not lowered.

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

Nevada would lose $28.4 million in federal money by 2006 if it does not lower the limit, the Review-Journal reported.

States that adopt the new limit by 2007 can recover the withheld funds.

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