Capitol Alert

California could adopt strictest drunken driving limit in nation, taking a cue from Utah

A visual glance at California fatal DUI statistics

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.
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Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased in California in 2016, according to an Office of Traffic Safety report.

It could soon be a lot easier to be busted for drinking and driving.

California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina Del Rey, and Assemblyman Heath Flora, R-Ripon, have introduced a bill that would nearly halve the maximum allowed blood alcohol content for driving, from .08 to .05.

Assembly Bill 1713 is in line with a 2013 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation.

That report concluded “that BAC levels higher than .05 are viewed by respected traffic safety and public health organizations around the world as posing unacceptable risk for driving, and more than 100 countries have already established per se BAC limits at or below .05.”

So what would the reduced BAC requirement mean for drivers?

That would be one drink for women under 160 pounds, and no more than two for men under 200 pounds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In December, Utah adopted the strictest drunken driving law in the nation when it became the first in the nation to use a .05 BAC as its standard.

A previous version of the story reported that the 2013 NTSB report was unavailable online. The story has been updated to include a link to that report.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


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