Monday, February 8, 2016

Could lower DUI standards be decades away in Pa., N.J.?

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National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Deborah Hersman. The NTSB is recommending that states lower their threshold for drunken driving to a blood-alcohol content of .05. (AP photo)
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Deborah Hersman. The NTSB is recommending that states lower their threshold for drunken driving to a blood-alcohol content of .05. (AP photo)
Story Highlights
  • The current .08 blood-alcohol limits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey could remain for decades.
  • The NTSB called this week for states to lower the blood-alcohol content threshold for drunken driving to .05.
  • Pennsylvania’s law lowering the limit to .08 was signed in September 2003.

Despite a federal safety board’s recommendation that states lower their standards for blood-alcohol levels that qualify as drunk-driving, any changes to the thresholds will likely come slowly.

If history is any guide, the current .08 blood-alcohol limits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey could remain on the books for decades, though legislators in either state could introduce bills to lower the threshold at any time.

The National Transportation Safety Board called this week for states to lower the blood-alcohol content threshold for drunken driving to .05. The board last recommended a change in 1982, according to USA Today, when it urged states to lower their drunk-driving standards from .10 to .08.

The next year, Utah and Oregon became the first states to lower their limits.

It took more than two decades for the laws to change in some states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Pennsylvania’s law lowering the limit to .08 was signed in September 2003. New Jersey enacted its law in January 2004.

By the end of 2004, all 50 states had changed their laws.

Safety officials have acknowledged that the NTSB recommendation probably won’t lead to quick changes.

"It was very difficult to get .08 in most states so lowering it again won't be popular," Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, told the Associated Press earlier this week. "The focus in the states is on high (blood alcohol content) offenders as well as repeat offenders. We expect industry will also be very vocal about keeping the limit at .08."


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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