Wisconsin expected to OK lower drunken-driving threshold

| 7/2/2003

A bill that would lower Wisconsin’s legal blood-alcohol concentration limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent and secure millions in federal highway aid was expected to pass the state Senate Tuesday, according to local media.

An amended version of AB88 permits all drivers, except commercial drivers, to erase drunken-driving convictions after 10 years.

Because of the amendment, the Assembly plans to meet July 2 to agree to the change, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The bill would then head to Gov. Jim Doyle, who has said he will sign it.

Lawmakers met in Madison July 1 for an “extraordinary session” to deal with the bill because they are on summer break.

By adopting the bill before July 15, the state will be eligible for $2.8 million in federal incentive grants. The state can also avoid losing $154 million in federal highway funds through 2009, the Journal Sentinel reported.

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. Forty-two other states have already adopted the lower threshold.

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