Car accidentA new Michigan law should help keep badly intoxicated drivers off of the roadways–a vital step that is necessary to ensure the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. According to previous research, in the past decade, if someone died in a car accident, there was a one in three chance that alcohol was a factor. However, supporters of a new stiffer drunk driving law hope to reduce the number of highly intoxicated drivers from stepping behind the wheel.

Under the law, which took effect last Tuesday, first-time offenders who register a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.17 percent or higher will face more jail time, a longer suspension of their driving privileges, higher fines and mandatory alcohol treatment. A driver is considered drunk and therefore subject to prosecution with a blood-alcohol percentage of 0.08, so the new law is aimed at drunken drivers with significantly higher levels of impairment. To give you an idea of how dangerous a highly intoxicated drunk driver is, a person with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.17 percent would have significant impairment of their judgment, motor control and reaction time and be at least 25 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a sober driver.

According to State Representative Bob Constan (D-Dearborn), similar blood-alcohol laws have been succesful in other states, such as New Mexico. In fact, New Mexico has witnessed a decrease in motor vehicle accidents and recorded fewer repeat drunk drivers after passage of the law. Michigan’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is also supportive of the new law, but hopes that the limit will be lowered even further in the future to prevent fatal drunk driving accidents.