A bill that’d toughen Iowa’s drunken driving law has cleared its first statehouse hurdle. A Senate Committee has endorsed lowering the legal standard for judging drunk driving from point-one-oh to point-oh-eight blood alcohol. Senator Andy McKean of Anamosa says scientific evidence shows drivers are impaired when their blood alcohol level reaches point-oh-eight.Senator Thomas Fiegen of Clarence says one of the functions of government is to protect people, and a tougher drunken driving law will do that.But Senator David Miller of Libertyville says county jails would be over-run with drivers picked up under the tougher standard. He says it is easy to pass policy and then push the cost onto local law enforcement.Senator Steven Hansen of Sioux City says it’ll catch too many “social” drinkers that shouldn’t be considered criminals.McKean says the law change will not affect social drinkers.Senator Maggie Tinsman of Bettendorf says it’ll make things easier for those who live along the Iowa/Illinois border as the lower limit is in effect in Illinois.The state of Iowa will lose nearly five MILLION dollars of federal road construction money in 2004 if the state’s blood alcohol level isn’t point-oh-eight. Some senators call that blackmail, and are reluctant to kowtow to the feds’ demand.
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