NY lawmaker looks to lower drunken driving limit from .08 to .05

January 22, 2018 07:03 PM

A New York state lawmaker is proposing to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol limit for drinking and driving.

Democratic Assemblymen Felix Ortiz wants to drop the limit from .08 to .05. This proposal stems from a recently released report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

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The report said each day, 29 people in the United State die in alcohol related crashes.

"This is about, at the end of the day, saving lives," said Ortiz. "Making sure children, families go back home."

Chief Deputy Kerry Thompson of the Albany County Sherriff’s Office is the administrator for the Albany County Stop DWI program. He thinks this move could be good.

"Since the 1980s, we’ve had the Stop DWI program and that’s become stagnant quite frankly," said Chief Deputy Thompson. "We’re looking for ways to change it up."

That new report says the U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to preventing drunken driving fatalities.

"Canada mandates it to .05 and they have found very positive results," said Assemblyman Ortiz. "Not only alcohol problems have been going down but secondly, they also have found out fatalities have gone down."

However, one Albany bar owner fears changing the BAC level could have a negative impact on his business.

"Anyone that’s in this business knows that your real profit margin is on the alcohol," said Owner of the Pearl Street Pub Chris Pratt.

Pratt said people already worry with a .08 BAC limit, and lowering it could cause people to no longer order a drink or two with dinner.

"In New York State we’ve been struggling with everything from tip sharing, to increasing minimum wage for servers," said Pratt. "It’s becoming more and more difficult."

But Assemblyman Ortiz said it’s about everyone doing their part in the fight against drunk driving.

"I think they should look at it on the other side," said Ortiz. "They will be part of a positive impact and a positive result and answer to a problem that has been taking away our families for a long time."

The measure has not been scheduled for a vote, but Ortiz said he would like to get this done before the end of this year’s session.

All states have a .08 threshold. But a Utah law passed last year that lowers the state’s BAC level to .05 doesn't go into effect until Dec. 30.


Emily De Vito

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