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Will the drunk driving threshold rise in Michigan?

As many people are aware, there has been much debate recently about whether the state's lawmakers should allow the drunk driving threshold to rise to .10 this fall as it is scheduled to do. Currently, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle when the driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, but the law is set to allow that level to move back up to .10 in October.

Drunk driving, of course, is a major cause of injuries and fatalities on Michigan's roads. Critics of the higher BAC limits say that the lower DUI threshold is one factor that has led to fewer drunk driving car accidents in recent years.

Every state currently has a drunk driving threshold of .08 in order to meet federal standards that are necessary to obtain federal highway funding. Michigan's drunk driving threshold was .10 before it was lowered to .08 in 2003 to meet the federal guidelines; that law, however, had an expiration date which is why the legal BAC may rise back up to .10 in October.

According to the Michigan State Police, alcohol-related car accidents are down about 30 percent since 2004. Fatalities have declined more than 20 percent in that time.

Lawmakers have introduced a bill to keep the threshold at .08, and it appears that it will pass in the state Legislature.

Regardless of whether the limit is .08 or .10, Michigan residents should plan for a sober ride home when they are drinking. Driving drunk can result in car accidents, injuries and death, and drunk drivers can be held not only criminally accountable, but also civilly liable for any medical bills, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering of car accident victims.

Source: MLive.com, "Should Michigan keep its drunken driving threshold at .08 percent BAC?" Tim Martin, Feb. 18, 2013

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