The state standard for judging just who’s driving drunk may change this year. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack often has called for lowering the blood alcohol limit from point-one-oh to point-oh-eight. Republicans who control the legislature’s agenda have repeatedly said no. In a private meeting yesterday, the Governor and legislators began talking about lowering the drunken driving standard, but setting up lesser penalties for those caught between one-oh and oh-eight. He says a combination of senators have concerns about the penalties involved.Senator Gene Maddox, a republican from Clive, says there’s reluctance to enforce the toughest penalties on those caught with a point-oh-eight or point-oh-nine blood alcohol level. Maddox says it would be a good objective to work toward a consensus on the penalty.The state will lose federal road construction money in future years if the state’s drunken driving standard isn’t lowered to point-oh-eight, and an Iowa Department of Public Safety spokeswoman says lowering the penalties for the lower-level drunken driving arrests probably won’t meet the federal dictate. Under current law, a first-time drunken driver must be jailed for at least 48 hours and lose their drivers license for 180 days. They may apply for a restricted license after a month, if they agree to install a device on the ignition that doesn’t let the car start if the driver’s intoxicated.
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