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OHP: Lower limit could help cut DUIs

A couple of drinks might soon be enough to put drivers into jeopardy if they decide to head out on the highways in Ohio.

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

A couple of drinks might soon be enough to put drivers into jeopardy if they decide to head out on the highways in Ohio.

Congress recently adopted a tougher national standard for drunken driving, raising the hopes of Ohio Highway Patrol officers that they can cut the more than 15,000 highway fatalities linked to alcohol.

The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have recently agreed to require states to implement a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content standard as the legal level for drunken driving.

Although it is required by Congress that states such as Ohio implement the life-saving plan by 2004, Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Carl Roark says it could take state legislators several years to take action.

"I’m not sure how long it will be before we see the new legal limit going into effect in Ohio," the Ironton post commander said. "I do know that when it does take effect in Ohio, it will help us better convict the people who are able to plea bargain on DUIs."

Individuals testing at a 0.10 blood alcohol level are often able to plea bargain through the justice system, he added.

He said troopers will continue ensuring public safety on roadways throughout the state, even after Ohio legislation adopts the new law.

"Our tactics are not going to change," he said. "We’re still going to continue enforcing the same traffic laws in the same manner we have always enforced them."

When the new legislation is adopted in Ohio, it will place law enforcement officers across the state on the cutting edge for providing increased public safety, he added.

A lower legal blood alcohol level will also save lives, he added.

Similar legislation was introduced in Ohio several years ago, Roark said, but was never passed.

"We asked for the 0.08 several years ago," he said. "As a result of that, legislators didn’t grant a lower legal limit, instead they provided stiffer penalties for those testing higher on the scale. I’m sure they’re going to pass it because one of the federal guidelines is that the states who don’t will lose federal funding. When legislators act on the new law, we’ll be able to enforce it."