Assemblymembers Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) and Heath Flora (R-Ripon) along with Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) on Monday, Feb. 25 introduced legislation that would lower the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit for non-commercial drivers from 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent. If passed, the bipartisan measure, AB 1713, known as Liam’s Law, would trigger a DUI charge for any driver found behind the wheel with a BAC over 0.5 percent.
“In 2016 my constituents, Marcus Kowal and Mishel Eder lost their 15-month-old son in an alcohol-related traffic accident. As a mother and a legislator, I felt compelled to act and decided to introduce a bill,” said Assemblywoman Burke. “There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating the need for lowering the BAC to .05 percent and if it prevents another family from suffering a horrific loss like Marcus and Mishel’s, then I have a responsibility to do whatever I can.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alcohol impairment was a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States in 2015.
“Every year we see drunk drivers kill or injure our friends and loved ones because they thought they were okay to drive,” said Assemblyman Flora. “Lowering the legal BAC limit to .05 percent has shown to decrease DUI-related traffic fatalities by serving as a deterrent to folks driving drunk in the first place.”
A comprehensive 2017 independent research study showed that from 1982 to 2014, lowering BAC from .10 percent to .08 percent in the U.S. resulted in a yearly reduction in alcohol-related fatalities of 1,736 (10.4 percent) without reducing overall alcohol consumption. This study is cited in a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on BAC published last year.
“This bill will save lives,” said Senator Hill. “One hundred countries have .05 BAC laws and it’s recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board because it will reduce the 1,000 DUI deaths and 20,000 injuries each year in California.”
For more information about Liam and his story, visit https://www.liamslife.org/.