New York lawmakers hope to drastically lower the amount of alcohol you can legally have in your system while driving.

New York lawmakers and other top officials met this week in hopes of lowering the state's legal blood alcohol content limit for driving while intoxicated.

New York Lawmakers Want To Lower Legal Drunk Driving Limit

New York State Senator John C. Liu
New York State Senator John C. Liu

New York State Senator John C. Liu and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon meant with Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, legislators, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Transportation Safety Board, and transportation advocates from around the nation to call for New York State to lower the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) from .08% to .05%.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen an alarming increase in high-speed car wrecks, especially on highways, very often fueled by the deadly combination of driving under the influence," Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez stated. We know there is a simple policy solution to curb this reckless behavior: lowering the BAC threshold for Driving While Intoxicated in New York State."

If passed, the bills from Liu and Simon would make New York the second state in the nation to lower its DWI threshold to .05 BAC.

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Over 33% Of Crashes In New York Involve Alcohol

Drunk young man sitting in car and holding empty bottle of beer in his hand
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Utah lowered its DWI threshold to .05 BAC in 2019 which helped reduce drunk driving deaths in Utah by nearly 20 percent, lawmakers note.

“More than a third of crashes in NY State involve alcohol, and the share of traffic fatalities related to DWIs has increased during the pandemic." State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon said. "New York was once a leader in combating drunk driving, but we have fallen behind and it’s time to update our standards to align with countries across the world."

In 2019, Utah lowered its threshold to .05 BAC and saw its drunk driving deaths reduced by nearly 20 percent while rates around the rest of the nation increased.

10,000 Killed Each Year By Drunk Drivers


Each year nearly 10,000 people are killed in DWI-related crashes and nearly 173,000 are injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, which recommends all states lower their BAC to .05.

“The science and data are clear as day: lowering the BAC to .05 saves lives. The best way to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities is to prevent people from drinking and driving. Lowering the legal blood alcohol limit will make our streets safer and help keep our families whole," Liu stated.

Lawmakers point to other countries like Australia and Argentina which have lowered their DWI and have seen an immediate ten-percent reduction in highway fatalities.


"Over 100 countries around the world already have this law on the books and all of them have seen improvements, but only Utah has done it here in America. New York needs to lead this effort," Liu added.

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Other states, including Washington and Hawaii, are also preparing legislation to lower the legal BAC to .05.

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