Any Chance the Michigan DUI Limit Will Rise to .10? Nah.
Seventeen years ago the U.S. Government decided that anyone behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more should be considered a drunk driver. Not all the states agreed at first, but eventually they all came around. Michigan’s DUI limit was was temporary, though, and now its time is up.
Will the state adopt its old .10 limit? No way.
Motor vehicle laws are state laws, so the federal government can only use persuasion, not coercion, to get states on board. Usually that persuasion comes in the form of highway funds. As part of an act called TEA-21, an incentive grant was created to adopt the.08 level.
Even with that incentive, it took until 2004 for every state to pass an .08 law. Michigan’s, which passed in 2003, is set to expire in 2018.
But times have changed. The lower limit is no longer considered governmental overreach, but a pretty sensible measure to stem the tide of alcohol-related road fatalities that plagued the country in the old days. So the Michigan House has introduced a couple of bills, 4547 and 4548, that would make the .08 limit permanent.
They’ll pass. To do otherwise would not only endanger highway funding for the state, but would lead to more carnage on the roads. At this point, we know what works to combat drunk driving:
- Sensible BAC limits
- Consistent enforcement
- Strong OWI laws, including ignition interlocks, administrative suspension, and suspension for sobriety test refusal
- Availability of alternatives such as taxis, public transportation, designated driver and rideshare services
There are a lot of battles still to be fought in the world of drunk driving prevention. Many states still do not mandate ignition interlocks for first offenses, and even more do not have compliance-based removal (making offenders pass a given number of months without a failed test before removing the interlock). Some do not revoke licenses automatically for drunk driving offenders.
However, it’s safe to say that the battle for .08 BAC limit has been won in the USA. On to the next fight.