In 1997, Illinois reduced the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers from .10 to .08, the standard now used by all 50 states. Today, 20 years later, lawmakers are thinking about further reducing the legal blood-alcohol limit from .08 to .05.
If you are wondering why, you are not alone. It is perfectly reasonable to ask questions like how much safer did the roads really get after the change from .10 to .08, relative to the cost to society of law enforcement and the severe penalties paid by people convicted of DUI? How strong is the rationale for further reducing the legal limit to .05?
In this post, we will look at how the change from .10 to .08 impacted DUI arrests and fatalities in Illinois over the past 20 years. In a separate post, we will look deeper into the debate over the .05 standard.
Deaths in Alcohol-Impaired Crashes Have Declined in Illinois
The Illinois law reducing the legal blood-alcohol level from .10 to .08 took effect July 2, 1997. The year before it took effect, 534 people died in Illinois car crashes involving at least one driver who was at or over the 0.08 level. In 2016, 272 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Illinois. Thus, the annual number of drunk driving deaths in Illinois has been cut in half, resulting in 262 fewer deaths. This may not be entirely attributable to the .08 change, though. Other factors have likely played a role, such as the 2000 law requiring drivers found guilty of DUI to have blow-to-drive devices installed in their vehicles.
DUI Arrests Have Declined in Illinois
Arrests for driving under the influence have declined significantly over the past decade, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. From 2010 to 2016, the number of arrests dropped by 12,371, from 41,900 to 29,528 arrests, a decrease of 30 percent. The decline in arrests could be partly due to law enforcement cuts; the number of Illinois State Police troopers, for example, declined from 2,105 in 2008 to 1,671 in 2016. But the decline can also be attributed to increased public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, along with increasingly severe legal and financial penalties.
The bottom line, as evidenced by the reduction in both arrests and fatalities, is that Illinois drivers do seem to have cut back on drinking and driving since the .08 law passed.
Trust an Experienced Joliet DUI Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, the first thing you should know is, there are many ways to beat a DUI charge and to fight the suspension of your driver’s license. To determine your best defense strategy, consult a knowledgeable Will County DUI Defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.