Congress readies bill to expand 0.08 alcohol rule to entire nation

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators have agreed to a tough national standard for drunken driving with penalties for states that don’t abide. President Clinton called it a "common-sense nationwide limit" that will save an estimated 500 lives a year and prevent thousands of injuries.

Under the measure, states would be required to adopt a 0.08 blood alcohol content standard as the legal measure for drunken driving by 2004. Those that don’t comply would stand to lose millions of dollars in federal highway funds.

"Congress has realized that what happened to me and what has happened to others is wrong," said Millie Webb, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Webb lost a nephew and a daughter, and she, her husband and her then-unborn baby were severely injured, in a crash with a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.

Currently, 18 states, including Washington, and the District of Columbia have 0.08 laws, and in Massachusetts a level of 0.08 is considered evidence but not proof of drunkenness. Thirty-one states establish 0.10 blood alcohol content as the minimum for drunken driving.

The nationwide drunken driving standard was included in a transportation spending bill approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee. It is expected to reach Clinton’s desk in a matter of days, and the president, a strong supporter of the measure, is sure to sign it into law.

On the Net: State drunken driving lawsc: www.mrtraffic.com/dui.htm

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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