The New York state legislature is currently considering a bill that would reduce the legal blood alcohol limit in the state from .08 to 0.05. If the bill becomes law, New York would be the second state in the nation to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit to .05, after Utah. According to a report by the New York Post, advocates for the legislation say it “would save countless lives.” According to Bronx News 12, the new law would also reduce the legal limit for Aggravated Driving While Impaired charges from .18 to .12.
The legal blood alcohol limit used to be .1 when state houses across the country began reducing it in response to “concerns about deadly drunk driving,” according to the Post. It’s been almost a decade since the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a limit of .05, with only Utah following the advice.
As one transportation safety advocate told the Post, “Virtually everyone is impaired at .05, we know that from studies,” and a reduced limit would pose a deterrent to people considering driving drunk. The bill’s advocate, Thomas Louizou, said further, “About 114 nations have lower limits than we do here in the US. They’ve seen on average about an 11 percent reduction in alcohol related fatalities. You’re looking at saving 25 lives per year here in the Empire State.”
The bill is being sponsored in the New York State Senate by John Liu of Queens and co-sponsored in the Assembly by Jo Anne Simon of Brooklyn. “This bill is needed,” Liu told the Post, “because there is still too much drunken driving out there.” The bill is part of a package of legislation that would also authorize New York City to operate its speed cameras 24 hours a day. According to the Post, current legislation “limits camera enforcement to 750 designated school zones from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays — neglecting some of the most deadly times and locations.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly backing the legislation in response to a “surge of traffic fatalities in 2020, driven by upticks in motor vehicles and cyclist deaths.” According to the mayor, 75% of those deaths were in times or locations “where state law prohibits camera enforcement.”