New York state has the opportunity to take stronger actions to reduce drunk driving. In January, state assembly member, Felix Ortiz, introduced bill A02302A. The bill would reduce the blood alcohol limit for DWIs from .08 to .05 and the limit for aggravated DWI from .18 to .12.
Since the bill’s introduction, it has so far been sponsored by 9 members of the state assembly (Ortiz, D’Urso, Simon, Englebright, Colton, Gottfried, Pichardo, and Williams). Currently, the bill has been placed with the assembly transportation committee. It will need to pass the transportation committee in order to be able move forward to a general vote by the assembly. It would need to be passed the assembly, have an equivalent bill introduced, passed in the state assembly, and be signed by the governor in order to become law.
This bill marks an attempt to reduce some of the damages caused by drunk driving. Drunk driving and other alcohol-based harms cause far too much damage to our society and destroy far too many lives. Drunk driving causes hundreds of thousands of accidents in the United States each year and results in over 10,000 deaths a year. Alcohol use kills 88,000 Americans a year and costs the United States over 249 billion dollars a year in social, medical, and economic damages.
This measure is supported by a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which includes lower DWI limits as one of their recommendations for reducing drunk driving.
This bill can help to reduce some of these problems. But it will take the voices and advocacy of New Yorkers in order to help get it passed. Elements of the alcohol industry are attempting to block this bill because they fear that this bill will encourage people to drink less when they’re out and thus reduce the alcohol industry’s profits. The alcohol industry cares more about its profits then they care about people’s lives. They have used their improper influence over our state’s elected officials to undermine restrictions at the expense of the public wellbeing and to block efforts to pass laws to reduce the problems of alcohol. It will take the effort of people committed to the public wellbeing and protecting lives to push lawmakers to do the right thing and take steps to reduce drunk driving.
If you would like to see the state take stronger efforts to reduce drunk driving, then spread the word, contact members of the state assembly and state senate, and encourage them to support this bill. You can find the contact information for members of the state assembly and can track the progress of the bill by going to the New York State Assembly website. You can find contact information for the state senate on the New York State Senate website.