PENDLETON, Oregon – The Oregon Legislature opens its session tomorrow in Salem. Senate President Peter Courtney has said he’s sponsoring legislation that would lower the blood alcohol content from 0.08 to 0.05. Both Sen. Bill Hansell (R-Athena) and Rep. Greg Hansell have said that, while they haven’t seen the bill, they are inclined to support the proposal.
Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts says if Courtney thinks the change would make the highways safer, he’s wrong.
“We still have to show the impairment,” he said of law enforcement officers charging people with driving under the influence. “I don’t know what they’re accomplishing, changing it from an .08 to an .05. That, in and of itself, is not prima facie evidence that you are intoxicated, or you are impaired.”
Roberts said for an officer to pull a driver over, that driver must first have exhibited signs he or she could be driving under the influence.
“For somebody to have the perception that by lowering the blood alcohol content that somehow, some way you’re going to have an impact above and beyond what we have today, I just don’t see it.”
Bar and restaurant owners have come out in opposition to Courtney’s proposal, stating that in the serious crashes involving alcohol, drivers’ BAC limits were well above what the legal limit is.