Lower drunken-driving limit now law in New Jersey

| 1/22/2004

Gov. James McGreevey signed legislation Jan. 20 lowering the drunken-driving threshold in New Jersey, helping the state preserve millions in federal highway dollars.

The new law lowers the state’s blood alcohol concentration limit for motorists from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, The Press of Atlantic City reported. A682 also establishes 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.

A 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. Until this week, New Jersey was one of only five states – Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota and West Virginia being the others – to defy the federal mandate.

The Garden State’s previous refusal to adhere to the standard cost the state more than $7 million in highway dollars, the newspaper reported. That money will now be returned.

States that adopt the new limit by Oct. 1, 2006, can recover the withheld funds.