Governor Tom Vilsack is renewing his push to toughen Iowa’s drunken driving law. Iowa lost two-MILLION dollars in federal money this year because the state standard for judging who is driving drunk wasn’t lowered to the .08 percent blood alcohol level. The Iowa Senate endorsed the move, but the Iowa House never debated the measure, and Vilsack’s asking Iowans to pressure legislative candidates on the issue, as Iowa stands up to 17-MILLION dollars in federal road dollars in 2007. Two retired state troopers in the Iowa House say they aren’t convinced the move would make much difference, but Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Techau says those two lawmakers have angered active troopers. Techau says “it’s fair to saythey’re disgusted” because troopers are very much in favor of lowering the drunken driving standard to .08. Colonel Robert Garrison, commander of the Iowa State Highway Patrol, says the lost federal funds could finance thekind of special enforcement effort 38 troopers and six DCI agents undertook in April, May and June targeting underage drinking. Garrison says there was a 50 percent decrease in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities during the three-month period, and he attributes that drop to theincreased enforcement effort. Garrison says open container violations jumped 200 percent in the three month period, and arrests for driving with a revoked license jumped 500 percent. “.08” is the law in 34 states, and Iowaofficials say if it were the law here, 16 lives would have been saved this past year.
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