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Bill package aims to reduce drinking and driving in Michigan


A new bill package in the state legislature would lower the legal threshold for drunk driving.

Currently, drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 are considered to be intoxicated.

Under bills in the state house that would become 0.05.

Democratic State Representative Abdullah Hammoud introduced the legislation. He said research shows driving at 0.05 is drunk driving.

“At 0.05 you have reduced coordination ability, you have a reduced ability to track moving objects, you have difficulty steering, and you actually have a reduced response time to emergency driving situations. All at 0.05.”

Hammoud said according to the Michigan State Police the state saw 311 fatal crashes involving alcohol in 2017. He said his legislation would reduce that number.

“By separating drinking and driving. And that’s in essence what we’re trying to do: ensure that you either drink or drive and never do both.”

Scott Ellis is the Executive Director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association. He said the bill would create a fear of operating a vehicle after even one drink.

“I’m not promoting getting behind the wheel after drinking by any means but at the same time criminalizing it and creating fear is not the answer and is not going to help tourism or the hospitality industry in the state at all.”

Ellis said people shouldn’t be afraid to drive home after having one or two drinks.

“Just lowering it and saying now 0.05 is the new thing what’s next? 0.02 and then just straight up prohibition? We’ve tried that and clearly, that didn’t work in the United States and we don’t think that’s going to work again.”

Ellis said the blood alcohol content in the majority of fatal car accidents where alcohol was involved is 0.15 - something this legislation would not address.

Hammoud’s bills would also require first-time convicted drunk drivers to have an ignition interlock device, ensuring that they pass a breathalyzer before being able to turn on a car.