Chicago Sun-Times
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Secretary of State Jesse White: Tougher DUI standard in Illinois deserves 'further study'

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DRIVERS_LICENSES_38132832.JPGSecretary of State Jesse White, pictured in this 2007 file photo, believes a federal recommendation Tuesday that Illinois and other states lower their drunk-driving standard from .08 blood-alcohol content to .05 blood-alcohol content warrants "further study." (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

SPRINGFIELD-Secretary of State Jesse White believes the idea of reducing Illinois' drunk-driving threshold merits "further study," his office confirmed Tuesday after a federal agency recommended all states scrap their .08 DUI standards.

The National Transportation Safety Board urged all 50 states to lower their drunk-driving limits by nearly half from .08 blood-alcohol content to .05 blood-alcohol content.

"It's an issue that needs further study. We commend them for looking into this and the work they've done. But we feel at this point, it needs more study to go to .05," White spokesman Dave Druker told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Druker said White was not prepared to move any kind of legislative package in the dwindling days of the spring legislative session and that his senior staff would delve more deeply into the NTSB's findings.

A 180-pound man could drink no more than two 12-ounce servings of light beer in an hour to stay below a .05 blood-alcohol content, according to an online blood-alcohol calculator maintained by the University of Oklahoma.

Under the existing .08 law, that same person could drink four 12-ounce servings of light beer to remain below the drunk-driving limit, the university calculator showed.

When asked whether the secretary of state's office has a concern about how those tighter standards would could make it impossible for Illinoisans to drink alcohol at weddings, anniversaries or Super Bowl parties and still drive legally, Druker said, "It's an issue."

But Druker cautioned that White had not formulated a position on the NTSB recommendations.

"I don't think we've thought it through to that extent. We just heard about the report today," Druker said.

Illinois has had a .08 blood-alcohol standard since 1997, when then-Secretary of State George Ryan successfully pushed the change through the General Assembly. Previously, the state's drunk-driving limit stood at .10 blood-alcohol content.

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What is White's reluctance to endorse this?

Anything to reduce drinking and driving should be put into effect. People who drink and drive, even drink small amounts, kill other people.

Take away their license and put them in jail.

This is ridiculous. The vast majority of drunk driving accidents are caused by people well over .1%. That'd be like trying to reduce obesity by limiting people to 500 calories a day.

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