Iowa Senate sends tougher drunken driving standard to governor

| 4/17/2003

The Iowa Senate has passed HF65, a bill in Iowa that would lower the standard for drunken driving from 0.10 to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.  The vote was 46-4.

The bill has already passed the House, and is on the way to the governor's desk. Iowa officials have contacted federal officials to see whether the bill meets federal requirements for lowering the drunken driving standard, a legislative 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.

However, Gov. Tom Vilsack, speaking to The Times, stressed the bill's safety benefits.

“I think it's going to make the highways safer,” Vilsack said. “I've supported it for a long time. And I think it's long overdue.”