Nevada under pressure from feds to lower DUI limit
Despite rejecting it six straight sessions, the Nevada Legislature might finally bow to federal pressure to lower the legal alcohol limit for drivers, officials said.
The odds for passage are better this year because Nevada stands to lose up to $29 million in federal highway funds over the next five years without the measure, they said.
Thirty-five states have bowed to the 1990 congressional mandate by lowering their legal blood-alcohol content limit to .08.
Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, plans to introduce a bill to lower Nevada’s limit from .10 to .08 after the 2003 session convenes Feb. 3.
Supporters said the loss in federal funding could threaten major roadwork across the state, including the “Spaghetti Bowl” reconstruction project in Reno and the Carson City bypass.
Similiar measures have been opposed in the past by groups representing Nevada casinos and restaurants.
The federal penalties would start in 2004, costing Nevada nearly $3 million in highway funds in the first year.
Each year afterward the federal penalty would climb. In 2007, federal non-compliance would cost Nevada $11.4 million, officials said.
Representatives of the Nevada Resort Association and Nevada Restaurant Association said they probably would not oppose the legislation this year.
But some legislators said they resent the federal mandate.
A federal study found at least a 7 percent drop in DUI-related fatalities in states where the legal limit is dropped to .08.
There were 106 DUI-related deaths in Nevada in 2002, according to preliminary reports.