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Proposal to lower the state's blood alcohol limit faces uncertain future, lawmakers say

Supporters call it an "uphill battle" to get the bill passed this session.

CONNECTICUT, USA — Lawmakers are pushing for the state to lower Connecticut’s blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from 0.08 to 0.05.

This comes as Connecticut experienced the deadliest year on its roadways in 2022, but with just about three weeks left in the session, it’s looking pretty unlikely this proposal will get through.

The bill did pass out of the Transportation Committee back in March, but it’s now stalled in the Senate, with the looming session end date of June 7.

“I never thought in a million years I would get a knock on the door that a police officer came to my house at five o’clock in the morning telling me that my daughter was in an accident,” said Angela Loprete of Wethersfield.

Loprete’s daughter, Maryann, died in a car crash on January 28, 2010.

“She was killed by a drunk driver,” Loprete said. “She was a passenger and she was killed and he came out okay. He came out just fine.”

Loprete went to the state Capitol Thursday to talk to lawmakers about their proposal to lower the state’s BAC limit.

“When they're talking in their meetings in there, they're talking about numbers,” she said. “So let's put a face to that particular life that was lost.”

Connecticut ranks as the third deadliest state for drunk-driving deaths, with about 46% of traffic fatalities in the state involving a driver with a BAC of at least .01. Nationally, drunk-driving deaths are only 30% of traffic fatalities.

Addressing a memorial of candles and flowers on chairs in the Capitol’s Hall of Flags, Bob Garguilo, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD) New England Region, said, “We talk about statistics and those candles represent 32 individuals that will die today across this country as a result of someone making a wrong decision to drive impaired.”

Currently, Utah is the only other state with a BAC limit of 0.05, but legislators say Connecticut should follow in Utah’s footsteps, citing a nearly 20% drop in fatal crashes there since implementing the law.

“We've got to be more responsible,” said state Rep. Roland Lemar, (D-New Haven). “We have an uphill battle if we want to get this passed this year, but I truly believe this conversation is not going away and I think Connecticut should lead.”

Proponents are already facing that uphill battle. House leaders on both sides of the aisle are saying they don’t plan to take action on the measure this session.

“To suggest that moving it to 0.05 is going to in some way improve Connecticut roadways I think is sort of the issue here,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said.

Supporters say if not this year, this will remain a priority for their next session.

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“We can make all the laws we want and we are working towards that, but nevertheless, we need to make a conscious cultural and societal shift,” added state Sen. Tony Hwang, (R-Fairfield).

Other roadway safety measures like a wrong-way driving proposal advanced through the legislature this week in the wake of Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams’ death earlier this year.

In regard to the timing of this bill, lawmakers say while this isn’t a new issue, they point to an increase in fatal crashes as the catalyst.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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