Waterloo, IA-Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he was willing to consider a recent suggestion from the National Traffic Safety Board to lower the legal threshold for drunken driving.
Last month, the NTSB came out with the suggestion that the states should lower the legal limit from .08 to .05.
“This is critical because impaired driving remains one of the biggest killers in the United States,” said Deborah Hersman, the NTSB chairman said, according to USA Today. “To make a bold difference will require bold action. But it can be done.”
Hersman believes that lowering the legal limit nationwide could save an estimated 500 lives, annually. Their suggestion to lower the legal limit, which has the approval of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was also accompanied by the suggestion that first-time DUI offenders be required to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.
Gov. Branstad said that he would consider the NTSB’s suggestion, but pointed out that the state has made huge strides in making motorists safe from drunken drivers. The legal limit in the state has decreased on more than one occasion; it was first lowered from .13 to .10, and then lowered again to .08 putting the limit on par with all 50 states.
Branstad said in his weekly news conference, “I would want to carefully review that.” He added, “We’ve made significant progress in reducing drunk driving in the state of Iowa. Whether this is an appropriate additional step or not, I think we’ll want to get more information and carefully review and study what kind of impact it’s going to have.”
There are those who are critical of lowering the legal limit, like the American Beverage Institute, who pointed out that the average woman would reach the legal limit of .05 after having just one drink. The ABI also pointed out that the majority of drunk drivers who cause fatal accidents have a BAC above .15.
“This recommendation is ludicrous,” Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, said in a statement to CNN. “Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.”
While Branstad is reluctant to endorse lowering the legal limit, he recently signed a law that will impact convicted DUI offenders. He signed a bill that would expand law enforcement’s right to collect DNA from criminal offenders.
According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, “Current law requires persons with a deferred judgment or conviction for a felony — as well as sexually violent predators and sex offenders — to submit a DNA sample for profiling”
But Gov. Branstad signed a bill that expanded DNA collection to “include people convicted of aggravated misdemeanors including assaults, thefts and multiple drunken driving convictions.
The ACLU is critical of collecting the DNA of people on such a large scale pointing out that DNA testing has a high threshold of error and could lead to false convictions.
If it wasn’t crucial for Iowans to hire a DUI attorney before, its especially crucial now since a conviction for more than one can see your DNA added to a state database.