Leaders say one of the first acts of the 2003 Iowa Legislature will be to lower the legal standard for judging who’s driving drunk in Iowa. Iowa’s blood alcohol standard for drunken driving is one-tenth of a percent today, point-one-zero for short, but Iowa is being penalized by the feds for not having a lower, .08 law. Next year, Iowa stands to lose over $4.5 MILLION in road construction money if it does not enact a .08 drunken driving law. House Speaker-elect Christopher Rants of Sioux City says the state can’t afford to lose that much money. Rants says some lawmakers want to establish a new, less-severe penalty for getting caught driving between the .08 and .10 level. Rants says the feds are “blackmailing” the states on the issue. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says that federal blackmail is the only reason Iowa will act. Iverson says no legislator believes folks should drive drunk, but he says no legislator is happy about the federal mandate. House Democrat Leader Dick Myers of Iowa City says he’ll vote for .08. Myers doesn’t believe it’ll have a dramatic impact, and he worries the state isn’t doing enough to do more to help those who abuse substances like alcohol. Iowa lost a two-MILLION dollar bonus payment from the feds this year because the state doesn’t have a .08 law. The Iowa Senate twice has voted to lower the drunken driving standard, but the House has never passed a .08 bill.
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