Washington State Legislature Proposes Lowering BAC Threshold for DUI from 0.08 to 0.05

Feb 08, 2024

OLYMPIA – In a bid to enhance road safety, the Washington State House of Representatives’ Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee has put forward House Bill 2196, a proposal that could significantly change driving under the influence (DUI) laws. Sponsored by Representatives Donaghy, Berry, Ormsby, and Davis, the bill seeks to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for operating a motor vehicle from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.

The scope of HB 2196 extends beyond just driving; it also proposes to adjust the BAC limit for individuals in physical control of a motor vehicle, addressing situations where a person may not be actively driving but still has the potential to operate the vehicle.

The bill is sensitive to the concerns of the hospitality sector, mandating that a portion of the public information campaign be developed in collaboration with local hospitality stakeholders. This initiative is geared towards educating drivers about safer alternatives when engaging with hospitality businesses.

In terms of civil liability, HB 2196 maintains the status quo. It specifies that the proposed changes in BAC limits do not alter existing civil liability laws applicable to commercial vendors who serve alcohol.

The proposed law, set to take effect on July 1, 2025, if passed, has garnered mixed reactions. Safety advocates are in favor of the stricter BAC limit, viewing it as a necessary step to reduce alcohol-related accidents and enhance road safety. Conversely, some members of the hospitality industry are apprehensive about the potential impact on their businesses.

As HB 2196 progresses through the legislative process, it remains a subject of keen interest, reflecting the ongoing debate between enhancing road safety and considering the economic implications for the hospitality industry.

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