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"0.08 BAC plan" against drunk driving, a step closer to be passed

April 22, 1999
By: Maria Andres
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 723

JEFFERSON CITY -The main anti drunk-driving measure --a plan to lower the blood alcohol content level (BAC) from 0.1 percent to 0.08 percent-- has a new chance to become a law in the last weeks of this year's legislature.

Two days after Mothers Against Drunk Driving gathered about 300 students to promote the 0.08 BAC initiative in the Capitol, the full House has approved a bill that includes this plan. It was among 30 other amendments related with cars' taxes and licenses.

The House passed the plan 98-25.

But Rep. Don Koller, D-Summersville and sponsor of the bill, doesn't have much hope that the 0.08 initiative will be approved now by the full Senate. The Senate will make some changes in the bill and this part is likely to be removed from it, Koller said. The 0.08 plan was attached to the bill by a house committee, although Koller doesn't approve of the measure.

"Personally I don't like .08," he said. "Well, it's not that I don't like .08, it is just that it is a farce for us to say in this chamber and vote for .08 when we all know this is not going to make one bit of difference about driving drunk."

The lawmaker defends other methods to stop drunk driving, like installing devices in the car that won't let the vehicle start if the driver is intoxicated.

The 0.08 BAC plan has been a controversy for years among legislators, because some of them are concerned that it would only punish social drinkers. The main 0.08 plan in the Senate was approved by the senate crime committee in March. But the chairman of the committee, Sen. Harold Caskey, D-Butler, killed the plan. He refused to report it to the full Senate until it was too late for the bill to be passed.

It's unknown if the bill will be reported Caskey's crime comittee, or if it will go to another committee in the Senate.