The threshold blood alcohol content (BAC) level at which a driver is automatically assumed to be driving under the influence in Michigan has been set at 0.08 percent since 2003, but if state lawmakers fail to act, that level could rise next fall.
If that happens, Michigan would find itself with the laxest standard in the nation for what it means to drive drunk.
Some 0.08 History
The 0.08 percent standard became a requirement for states to receive federal highway assistance funds beginning in 2004, which helped nudge many states into compliance. Since at least 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that states lower their limit to 0.05 percent, but it was only earlier this year that Utah became the first state to take that step.
Michigan was one of the last handful of states to adopt the 0.08 percent standard, which began gaining momentum in 1983. But when our law was enacted, legislators chose to include a “sunset” provision, which would have returned the standard to the previous 0.10 percent level in 2013.
That was pushed out another five years shortly before it came due, but if no action is taken, time will run out again on October 1, 2018.
Fix in the Works
It wouldn’t take much to completely do away with the sunset provision and make 0.08 percent Michigan’s permanent standard, and in April, two bills were introduced in the state house of representatives to do just that.
The bills reached the Law & Justice Committee on June 13, and both were referred for second readings, giving them a good chance of being voted on before the end of the current legislative session, although no similar bills are pending in the senate.
With Crashes Up, Safer Rather Than Sorry
Drunk driving deaths, as with all highway fatalities and crashes in general, had been trending down in Michigan for most of the last decade.
However, over the last two years, the state has seen the same kind of increase experienced by the country as a whole. Preliminary data for 2016 show a small jump in total crashes but a nearly 17 percent jump in total fatalities since 2014.
We’re not certain how much of that increase can be directly blamed on drunk driving, but over the past decade about one-third of fatal accidents have been consistently attributed to intoxicated drivers.
Knowing that, and knowing that numerous studies over the years have shown that stopping drunk drivers makes the roads safer for everyone, we don’t see any reason why Michigan would want to allow the .08 percent standard to fade away, thereby singling itself out as being the most friendly state in the union for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Detroit Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been the victim of a drunk driver, you have a certain amount of automatic protection thanks to Michigan’s no-fault insurance system. But if you’ve been seriously injured, it may be to your advantage to pursue action above and beyond the no-fault system to ensure that you’re receiving the full compensation you’re entitled to.
It’s vital that you work with an experienced partner who can help you through every step of the process.
The team at Christensen Law understands Michigan car accident law, and we’ve helped hundreds of clients get the settlements they deserve. We offer a free consultation to all clients, so give us a call today at 248-213-4900 or contact us online through the form below to start the discussion of your unique case.