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June 5th, 2013

Ortiz proposes new legislation

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz

ALBANY - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz recently unveiled a legislative package to combat irresponsible drinking behavior in NY. These legislative life savers include dropping the blood-alcohol content (BAC) that identifies drunk driving to .06 (A.7565); requiring that ex-violators of the current standard (.08 BAC) have two disposable breathalyzers in their vehicle at all times (A.7331); and finally, new legislation to strengthen the state’s rules for assessing individuals in need of treatment, as well as to increase access to that treatment.

It is estimated that a .06 BAC level decreases the risk of an accident by 40-50%, a significant drop from the 100% risk increase experienced by drivers at or above the current standard.

"The current standards have been ineffective at decreasing alcohol-related accidents in the past decade. A limit of .06 BAC is a 25% reduction and can save countless lives every year," Ortiz said. "It is especially important to address this issue during the graduation and prom season to ensure the safety of our youth."

Over 10,000 people lose their lives in alcohol-related traffic accidents every year, not including the 170,000 injured in similar accidents. Also, the breathalyzer bill would provide the means for ex-offenders to conveniently test BAC levels before operating a vehicle.

"Police officers witness firsthand the effects of drunk driving. We want to do whatever we can to reduce the carnage it causes," said Richard Wells, President of the Police Conference of NY.

The NTSB reports that BAC levels above .06 impair cognitive abilities, rendering it dangerous to drive under those conditions. Currently, the United States and Canada are among the outliers who distinguish drunk driving with the current standard. Most countries in Europe and South America have lowered BAC limits and experienced significant decreases in traffic fatalities.

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