lower drunken-driving threshold is a pen stroke away from becoming law in New
Jersey, and a bundle of federal highway dollars will likely follow.
state Assembly voted in favor of legislation Jan. 12 that would reduce the
state’s blood alcohol concentration limit for motorists and put the state one
step closer to preserving $72 million in federal highway dollars. The measure,
which passed the Senate earlier the same day, now heads to Gov. James
McGreevey, who is expected to sign it.
would lower the threshold from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent. It would also
establish a sliding-scale penalty system tied to blood alcohol levels with fines
up to $600 and license suspensions ranging from three months to a year.
2000 federal law required each state’s legislature to adopt the 0.08 limit by
Oct. 1, 2003, or lose 2 percent of its highway money. New Jersey is one of only
five states (Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota and West Virginia being the others)
to defy the federal mandate.
Garden State’s previous refusal to adhere to the standard cost the state more
than $7 million in highway dollars when lawmakers ignored the Oct. 1 deadline,
local media reported. This year, the loss would jump to $14 million, $21.5
million in 2005 and $28.7 million in 2006.
that adopt the new limit by Oct. 1, 2006, can recover the withheld funds.