by Andrew Walden
With an unannounced Executive Order May 20, Governor Abercrombie has quietly appointed a "Hawaii Impaired Driving Taskforce" in an effort to comply with federal funding requirements known as MAP-21. These include a mandate to cut the legal blood alcohol limit from 0.08% to 0.05%.
From the Executive Order:
WHEREAS, MAP-21 is the current transportation bill that authorizes federal funding for federal surface transportation programs that target traffic safety issues, such as Impaired Driving, Distracted Driving, Occupant Protection, Motorcycle Safety, and Speeding;
WHEREAS, the new requirements enacted by Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandate that in order to qualify for Impaired Driving Countermeasures Grant funding under MAP-21, states that have an average impaired driving fatality rate that is higher than 0.30 and lower than 0.60 are considered mid-range states. Based on the Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, Hawaii's average impaired driving fatality rate is 0.44 and Hawaii is required to establish a statewide impaired driving task force to develop and submit a statewide impaired driving plan by September 1, 2013 to avoid jeopardizing the receipt of further federal funds;
WHEREAS, a priority recommendation from NHTSA's 2010 Impaired Driving Technical Assessment urged the Hawaii Department of Transportation to establish a task force to address impaired driving issues, and provide oversight of implementation of strategies and countermeasures
Three days before Abercrombie signed the executive order, West Hawaii Today reported:
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending Hawaii reduce its allowable blood alcohol content by nearly 40 percent with the hope of reducing alcohol-impaired traffic crashes and fatalities.
The recommendation, handed down Tuesday, proposes Hawaii, along with the other 49 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, drop its legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05. The recommendation is among 19 new and repeated recommendations calling for stronger laws, swifter enforcement and expanded use of technology....
Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, said he plans to bring legislation before the 2014 Legislature to reduce the legal limit in Hawaii to 0.05....
Rep. Cindy Evans, D-North Kona and South and North Kohala, questioned whether more money should be put into preventing alcohol impaired driving rather than tightening further the laws and increasing punishment....
MADD Hawaii State Executive Director Abigail Nickell said the organization, nationally and locally, is taking a neutral stance on the recommendations....
(Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth) ... said he is working on legislation to strengthen the state’s ignition interlock system law, which makes it essentially voluntary to install an ignition interlock device. He wants to make probation a part of a DUI sentence because it would open the door to requiring as a condition of probation such things as installing an ignition interlock device. Noncompliance could result in the revocation of probation.
HNN May 14, 2013: NTSB wants drunken driving limit lowered to .05
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