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12th District State Senator Brad Hawkins says that at first blush, he can support a bill headed for the Senate Transportation Committee that would lower the legal limit for a driver's blood alcohol content from .08 percent to .05 percent. The bill, which is also sponsored by about a dozen other lawmakers from both parties, moved out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee last week. Hawkins says people shouldn't drink and drive, but he believes that drivers with a blood alcohol level of just below .08 are impaired:

But there is opposition to the bill; John McDonald, executive director of the Washington Wine Commission, said last week a change to .05 percent could turn what he calls a “reasonable, modern consumption experience for both the consumer and the winery into a very serious concern.” Julia Gorton with the Washington Hospitality Association argued that there is, quoting here, “no discernable way to recognize signs of intoxication” at the .05 level.

Governor Jay Inslee signaled his support for the bill, saying he's convinced the change would cause people to moderate their drinking and driving behavior. If the bill becomes law, Washington would become the second state in the country to lower the legal limit to .05 percent. Utah's legislature voted in 2017 to lower the limit; since it went into effect, the number of crashes and fatalities have fallen, even though drivers logged more miles.

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