California considers tougher standards for drivers who drink

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- How much is too much?

"I'm on number two," said Mary Beth Hall from Guerneville, as she sat at the Beer Baron Bar and Kitchen in Santa Rosa.

In California, two drinks may soon be too much for most of us if lawmakers and drunk driving victims get their way.

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They've proposed a bill in California's State Assembly called Liam's Law. It would impose a stricter legal alcohol limit on drivers, from .08 to .05, all prompted by the drunk driving death of a Southern California toddler in 2016.

"What feels so unjust is Liam's death was completely preventable," said his mother Mishel Elder.

But they're getting pushback.

"I think it is completely wrong," said attorney Ryan Wilber, who specializes in defending drunk drivers.

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He doesn't see the difference between California's established standard, and the proposed one. "The state of the law is there is a presumption you are not impaired at .05. Now they want to change it?"

Supporters say such a reduction would reduce deaths by 11 percent, nation-wide.

"This law is based not on emotion, but statistics and fact," said Mishel Elder.
The law might also change the way bars and restaurants do business. Taking either side presents a no-win for them, this being a matter of profit versus responsibility.

"Changing the limit will not solve the problem. We need to do more in other ways to solve this issue," said Sonu Chandi, who runs the Beer Baron in Santa Rosa.

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We asked Bartender Andrew Jayne if he could see the difference between .05 and .08 in a customer. "No. After 1.1? That's a problem. .05 makes happy hour useless."

Supporters of the bill see the measure differently. "It would be a broad deterrent for drivers," said Mishel Elder.

Some 100 other countries have already established the standard.

The general rule of thumb is that two standard drinks in the first hour will raise your blood alcohol level to.05%, and 1 standard drink per hour thereafter will maintain that level.
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