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.