Del. Lowers Legal Blood Limit; Hope is Alcohol-Related Injuries Will Drop

July 14, 2004

Flanked by anti-drunk driving advocates, medical professionals, as well as safety, transportation, and law enforcement officials, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner earlier this week lowered the legal blood alcohol limit in Delaware to .08 percent.

Gov. Minner signed House Bill 111 in a ceremony at Delaware State Police headquarters in Dover. The bill, which takes effect immediately, makes it illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more, down from .1 percent.

“Taking this step will save lives in Delaware, and that’s why we’re doing it,” the Governor said. “In our state, enacting .08 legislation could save as many as four lives and prevent 100 alcohol-related injuries from occurring each year.”

“We know that having this law in place will save lives,” said Dolly Banks, founder of the Delaware chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, citing MADD estimates that nationally, approximately 500 lives can be saved each year with .08 now the law in every state. “We believe that more families will now be spared the pain that we have felt in losing a loved one at the hands of an impaired driver.”

“Everyone’s abilities are impaired in some way when their blood alcohol concentration is .08, and it is simply not safe for them to drive,” added Kristen Allen, program manager for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Mid-Atlantic Region. Allen encouraged people who are going out to plan ahead and appoint a designated driver before leaving the house, or plan to take alternative transportation like cabs or buses.

Gov. Minner had called for passage of .08 legislation in all four of her State of the State addresses. In 2002, the Governor signed into law measures that toughened penalties for repeat DUI offenders and those with Blood Alcohol Contents higher than .15.

Gov. Minner still hopes to gain passage of a law banning open containers of alcohol from the passenger compartment of motor vehicles.

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