Lower drunken driving standard advances in Iowa

| 4/8/2003

Iowa's Senate Judiciary Committee voted April 2 to recommend passage of HF65, a bill that would lower the standard from drunken driving from 0.10 to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.

The bill has already passed the House. Several amendments were added in the Senate, and must be approved by the House for the bill to go on to the governor's desk. A similar bill, SF37, was incorporated into HF65 earlier.

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.