Law stiffens for drunken driving

0.08 standard designed to lower traffic fatalities

Of the 742 traffic deaths in Colorado in 2002, 41 percent were alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

That's a statistic the Colorado Legislature hopes to change when a new law takes effect Thursday, lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for driving from 0.1 to 0.08.

It's a change drivers need to be aware of, said Craig Police Capt. Jerry DeLong.

"People need to be aware when they drink and drive, it's going to have an impact on their licenses," DeLong said.

Craig police arrested 25 people on charges of driving while ability impaired or driving drunk in 2003.

"Whenever you have any alcohol in your system it makes your reactions slower," DeLong said.

Ron LaSelle, owner of the Golden Cavvy Restaurant and Lounge, said the lower limit wouldn't affect his business, because his waitresses and bar staff already are trained to stop serving customers before they are too drunk to drive.

"We do whatever we can. Our goal is for our customers to have fun, not a DUI," LaSelle said.

He said his staff would serve customers fewer drinks as the night progresses and call taxis for those too drunk to drive. Many of his patrons walk to and from the bar, he said.

"I don't know if it will have an effect in this town, because our main problem is people on drugs and I don't mean alcohol," he said.

Rep. Bob Briggs, R-Westminster, introduced the legislation during the past legislative session. Its passage makes Colorado the 48th state to adopt a 0.08 blood-alcohol standard. The law retains Colorado's driving while ability impaired standard of 0.05 percent.

"In states that have already adopted the lower 0.08 standard, we have seen a 30 percent reduction in number of traffic fatalities," Briggs said.

Other provisions in the bill allow retail liquor stores to conduct wine tastings and restaurant customers to re-cork and take home unfinished wine bottles.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com

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