Tougher drunken driving law passes Delaware House

| Monday, April 21, 2003

HB111, a bill that would establish a tougher standard for drunken driving in Delaware, passed the House 39-0 on April 17.

The bill would lower the state's legal blood alcohol content level from 0.10 to 0.08 percent. In addition, if a driver were over 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit under the bill, that driver would not be eligible for the state's First Offender Program. 

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. If the state doesn't lower its limit to 0.08 by October, it stands to lose $1.6 million in federal highway funds, the Delaware State News reported recently. The penalty escalates in future years.

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

Another bill to lower the limit was killed earlier in the session. HB37, sponsored by Rep. William A. Oberle, R-Beecher's Lot, was withdrawn from consideration April 3.

Some legislators have said publicly that they opposed the effort to lower the limit. However, according to The New Castle-Wilmington News-Journal, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner supports the bill and listed it as a legislative priority for this year.

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