12th January 2024
- Stay up to date with the latest important news about drinking and driving.
- Texas implemented “Bentley’s Law” (House Bill 303), compelling drunk drivers convicted of killing parents to pay child support. The law, effective since September 1, 2023, mandates payments starting a year after release from prison until the victim’s children turn 18. Other states, including Tennessee, are considering similar legislation.
- A study revealed alarming statistics on older motorists, with over 1.6 million drivers over 55 admitting to driving over the legal alcohol limit.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a process to mandate technology preventing impaired drivers from starting vehicles. The NHTSA explores ways to make this a legal requirement in all new vehicles.
- A Canadian man in Abbotsford, British Columbia, sets a DUI arrest record with 21 convictions, receiving a jail sentence of nearly five years.
- Washington legislators proposed lowering the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08% to .05%, citing potential safety benefits. However, the bill ultimately failed to pass before the March 2023 deadline.
Drinking and driving is a serious crime, with violators driving under the influence facing severe charges. This pervasive problem kills tens of thousands of people each year across the country, severely injuring hundreds of thousands of others. As you might expect, this subject is constantly in the news. The following is a brief look at some of the most significant news about drinking and driving from the US and Canada.
If you’ve suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a car accident due to a drunk driver, Sand Law attorneys are standing by to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please call 701-609-1510 or contact us online for a free consultation so we can tell you more about what we can do for you.
The State of Texas Considers Forcing Drunk Drivers Who Kill Parents to Pay Child Support
In June 2023, State of Texas legislators passed “Bentley’s Law” (House Bill 303). The law requires people convicted of drunk driving who kill parents to pay child support. Drunk drivers must begin making payments within a year of being released from prison. They must continue those payments until the surviving children of the victims turn 18. The law went into effect on September 1, 2023.
Tennessee was the first state to adopt Bentley’s Law in 2022. Several other states are considering similar legislation.
Study: Older Motorists Regularly Drive While Drinking
According to a study, more than 1.6 million drivers over 55 have gotten behind the wheel while intoxicated. Another 3.6 million say they might have been over the limit. The study also reported that 1.2 million of those who admitted driving under the influence said they did so because they were only driving a short distance. More than 750,000 older drivers said they got behind the wheel even though they were still drunk from drinking the previous night, which could potentially lead to a DUI from the hangover.
NHTSA Preparing to Force Technology Designed to Reduce Drunk Driving
In December 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it had started the process of forcing automakers to introduce a technology that prevents impaired drivers from starting their vehicles.
The NHTSA began gathering public comments and information as part of a process known as “advance notice of proposed rulemaking.” The agency designs the notice to explore ways to develop and deploy the technology and to make it a legal requirement in all new vehicles eventually.
Researchers are exploring several technologies to fulfill eventual requirements. These include sensors that detect alcohol on a driver’s breath and cameras to monitor a driver’s eye movements to sense intoxication. It’s unlikely the NHTSA would mandate the installation of breathalyzers in cars.
Canadian Man Breaks DUI Arrest Record
Police in Abbotsford, British Columbia, arrested a 66-year-old man after responding to a motorcycle accident in August 2022. The man was the motorcycle operator and tried to run away before officers arrived at the accident scene. He pled guilty on December 18, 2023, and received a jail sentence of slightly less than five years. An Abbotsford police spokesperson said the conviction was the man’s 21st for impaired driving – a record for Canada.
Washington Legislators Push for Lower BAC Limit
In February 2023, Washington lawmakers introduced a bill to lower the state’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level from .08% to .05%. The bill cleared a Senate law committee before going to the Senate Transportation Committee.
The .08% legal limit typically allows someone to have one drink per hour. With the .05% limit, a 100-pound person could have only one alcoholic beverage in four hours and remain under .05%.
Proponents said fatal drunk driving crashes fell 20% after the implementation of the lower limit. Severe injury and overall impaired driving fell about 10%. If approved, the bill would have made Washington the second state after Utah to enact a .05% BAC limit.
However, the bill ultimately failed because legislators didn’t move it off the state senate floor before the March 2023 deadline.
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