Will California Join Utah in Lowering Legal Drinking Limit to 0.05%?

Considerations for Lowering California’s Legal BAC limit from .08% to .05%

In 2019, a bill was introduced by Assembly Members Burke and Flora with principal coauthor Senator Hill to reduce California’s legal blood alcohol concentration limit from 0.08% to 0.05%. Unfortunately, Assembly Bill 1713 died in committee and is currently inactive, but calls to join Utah, which currently has the lowest BAC limit in the country, have reignited.

According to CBS Sacramento, the bill was known as Liam’s Law, named for a young child that was killed in a drunk driving crash in 2016. As noted by Liam’s Life Foundation, the 15-month-old was killed by a drunk driver while he was being walked by his aunt. The tragedy prompted Liam’s parents to start the foundation which aims to “end alcohol-related driving fatalities.”

While AB 1713 did not result in a change to the California Vehicle Code, many hope that it could still happen. A large and growing number of countries have a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.05% or lower. For example, countries like Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, and Switzerland all have legal BAC limits of 0.05%. In contrast, countries like Russia, India, China, Sweden, Japan, Iraq, and others have legal BAC limits of less than 0.05%.

Many toxicologists will argue that a person is impaired and therefore unable to drive at a BAC of 0.05%. It is unclear whether California will join ranks with Utah and countries worldwide with lower BAC limits, but it continues to be discussed by lawmakers in the state.