‘It’s alarming’: Lawmakers ask to lower blood alcohol limit for DUI citations

SPOKANE, Wash. — Lawmakers want to lower the number of impaired drivers on the roads, as they cause 30 percent of fatal crashes. In Spokane County, they cause 60% of fatalities.

“The highest number we’ve seen in about 25 years,” said Mark McKechnie, director of external relations for the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.

The increasing number of traffic deaths is creating  concern, especially for Washington officials.

“Impaired by drugs and alcohol has continued in all of our data to be the number one risk factor leading to fatal crashes,” McKechnie said.

Senator John Lovick wants to help keep drivers safe on the road by lowering the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05.

“We want to be the second state next to Utah to implement that standard that will help significantly reduce crashes involving alcohol impairment including other substances like cannabis plus alcohol,” McKechnie said.

He says that impaired drivers are more likely to speed and less likely to wear a seatbelt when driving.

“Speed, alcohol, and inattention are really kind of the classic three that’s something that we are seeing here,” said Corporal Nick Briggs with Spokane Police.

The Spokane Police Department says during their shifts, officers are always looking for cars that are unstable on the road.

“Whether it’s inability to perceive surroundings, people who are running red lights, people not seeing pedestrians, not yielding to pedestrians,” Cpl. Briggs said.

The Traffic Safety Commission says enforcement of impaired driving has declined since COVID. The commission is asking local jurisdictions to use things like automated speed cameras to keep impaired drivers off the road.

“It’s alarming. It’s definitely the area we need to focus on the most,” McKechnie said.

A simple reminder for everyday drivers is to wear your seatbelt, put your phone away, and follow speed limits, and most importantly, don’t drink and drive.

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