STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – A New York State lawmaker wants to lower the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent.
If Queens Democratic state Sen. John Liu’s bill passes, New York would be just the second state in the country, along with Utah, with a BAC limit for drivers that low.
I’m all for road safety, including keeping people who are seriously impaired by alcohol or drugs from driving.
And a lower BAC limit could definitely keep people from driving after having a few drinks.
It’s estimated that a man weighing 200 pounds will have a BAC of .06 after just three drinks, enough to put him over the proposed new limit.
That could be a deterrent to some. Maybe more people will call an Uber or Lyft if the BAC limit was lowered.
But there’s an irony to the fact that New York lawmakers who just legalized marijuana for recreational use could now look to crack down on alcohol-fueled driving.
Lawmakers are so permissive on the one hand, yet more draconian on the other. Which side are they on?
Liu himself was one of the early proponents of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, calling for it during his failed mayoral bid in 2013.
As far as weed and road safety, the results are mixed. Some studies indicate that road danger has increased in states that have legalized weed, others say not so much.
New York lawmakers, meanwhile, kicked the can down the road when it comes to traffic safety and legal weed.
Lawmakers here were far more vocal about highlighting the social-justice reasons for legalizing marijuana, the desire to right the wrongs that strict enforcement of weed laws had brought to minority communities over the years.
So just how the New York law enforcement officers will deal with stoned drivers on the roads remains a little hazy at the moment. It’s a problem for another day.
The legal weed legislation makes driving while impaired by marijuana a violation in lieu of a misdemeanor.
It also put in place a “controlled research study” designed to evaluate methodologies and technologies for the detection of cannabis-impaired driving.
After completion of the research, the state Department of Health could create and implement rules and regulations to approve and certify a test for the presence of marijuana in drivers.
You would think that lawmakers would have wanted a better handle on all that before they legalized weed, not after.
We still have time, though. It’s going to be a while before legal weed is actually for sale in the state. Maybe we’ll have all the enforcement protocols in place by then.
Or we can let the genie out of the bottle, see what happens and try to adjust. We’re not even sure how cops are supposed to judge whether somebody is driving under the influence of weed.
And enforcement that’s too strict could get in the way of the millions of dollars that are expected to flow into the state’s coffers from weed taxes and other fees.
It’s not the first time that New York lawmakers’ zeal to speedily legalize marijuana has left unanswered questions.
They rushed to legalize weed even though the opioid drug crisis continues to take lives. Do we really need another intoxicant out there?
They want people to smoke weed even though we’ve spent decades in this country trying to get people to stop smoking cigarettes. Do they care about the public health?
They legalized weed even though there’s no sure way of ensuring that under-age kids won’t have access to marijuana the same way they can get their hands on cigarettes and alcohol. Isn’t anybody thinking about the children?
Not yet, at least. Soon, maybe.