West Virginia closer to lower drunken-driving standard

| 1/27/2004

A bill approved last week in the West Virginia House puts the state one step closer to a lower drunken-driving threshold.

The House of Delegates passed legislation Jan. 22 to lower the state’s blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent.

Because the House version differs from the one approved by the Senate Jan. 16, the bill must go back to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor, WOWK TV reported.

Passage of SB166 would bring the state in compliance with a federal decree that states adopt the lower limit or lose federal highway dollars. West Virginia is one of only four states (Colorado, Delaware and Minnesota being the others) yet to conform to the federal mandate.

West Virginia’s previous refusal to adhere to the standard cost the state $2.6 million in highway dollars when lawmakers ignored the Oct. 1 deadline, the news station reported. Next year, the loss will be $5.2 million, with the penalty growing to $10.5 million in the 2007 budget year.

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