LANSING — State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) introduced legislation that lowers the threshold for impaired driving in Michigan to the lowest in the nation March 21.
The legislation also would require ignition interlocks for all drunken drivers, which would make Michigan the 34th state with an all-offender ignition interlock law.
The legislation — which lowers the threshold to .05 blood alcohol concentration — was endorsed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It was MADD’s first endorsement of .05, which is equal to that of the state of Utah.
“We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic,” Hammoud said. “As a former public health professional, I am motivated by facts and statistics, and as a legislator I know our current policies in place to prevent drunk driving are not working, which is why we must do more.
“The loss of the Abbas family, a beautiful family of five, due to a drunk driver, has further motivated a community of advocates to step up and propose real solutions backed up by the scientific community. These critical proposals will do more to prevent drinking and driving, and ultimately save lives.”
In December, Utah became the first state in the nation with a .05 BAC law. In addition to Michigan, proposals in Oregon, New York and California are being considered this year. MADD is not seeking a national .05 BAC standard at this time, MADD National President Helen Witty said, but will support .05 BAC legislation as it is proposed state by state.
“MADD fought hard to pass a national .08 BAC law that has saved thousands of lives over the past 15 years,” said Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter Helen Marie was killed by a drunk and marijuana-impaired driver while rollerblading on a bike path. “We continue to stand behind that national standard. But for states that want an even stronger law — let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
“Today, we are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” Witty said. “Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at .05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100 percent preventable crash. We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.”
Drunken driving is the leading killer on U.S. roads, and the numbers are “going the wrong way,” Witty said. In 2017, drunken driving killed almost 11,000 people — a 9 percent increase since 2014, when the number of people killed by drunken driving dropped below 10,000.
“In the 39 years since MADD’s founding, the number of drunk driving deaths have been reduced by half,” Witty said. “But the recent rise in lives lost, and the horrific drunk driving crashes that continue to dominate the news, are constant reminders that our work is just beginning.
“We know that strong laws, backed by consistent law enforcement will save lives. MADD will put every effort into supporting both of these, until there are no more victims.”