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Lawmaker pushes to lower DUI legal limit

Delaware Public Media

State Rep. Joseph Miro wants to lower the legal limit for driving under the influence in the First State.

Under Miro’s bill, the legal blood alcohol content level would go from .08 to .05. Utah is the only state so far to approve this stricter standard.

In 2004, Delaware was the last state to approve reducing its DUI legal limit from .10 to .08. DUI arrests have dropped about 57 percent between 2005 and 20-17.

Delaware State Police say they arrested about 4,772 people for DUI in 2016. There were 46 alcohol-related fatal vehicle crashes in 2016, down from 60 in 2015.

Miro said those numbers show drunk driving is still a serious problem in Delaware.

“Over the last couple of years, the numbers have decreased, but that is still too high," he said. "One death is too many.”

The American Beverage Institute strongly opposes lowering the DUI legal limit. It calls such legislation an attack on restaurant and hospitality industries.

ABI also argues lawmakers should focus on people who repeatedly drink and drive instead of lowering the blood alcohol limit.

Miro said he favors stiffer penalties for people with multiple DUIs, but adds his bill doesn’t address repeat offenders because state law already does.

“I think that that’s something that needs to be looked at. To increase the penalties," he said. "Quite honestly, those people should not be driving, they should lose their license.”

The National Transportation Safety Administration website says repeat offenders are four times more likely to cause a deadly crash. It also supports states lowering the DUI threshold.

The Foundation for Alcohol Responsibility found deaths related to drunken driving nationwide have fallen 20 percent since 2007 and 57 percent of those had blood alcohol levels of .15 or more.

Miro’s bill is currently before the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee.

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