In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the legal limit a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) when getting behind the wheel of motor vehicle is 0.08 grams of alcohol per hundred milliliters of blood. This is the legal limit across the United States due to the lobbying efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and others in support of cutting down on drunk driving fatalities in the nation.
Technically, the United States federal government does not have authority to create a mandatory blood alcohol limit in each of the several states because of the 10th Amendment states rights provision. However, Congress does have a enumerated plenary power to tax and spend for the general welfare of the American people. It is the spending clause that allows for a national drinking age and a national blood alcohol limit. Congress can give highway-funding grants to the states as its members see fit. If they wish to tie receipt of federal highway funding grants to the state’s choice to institute a specific law, they have the right to do so without violating the 10th Amendment. This is how Congress was able to a pass a national BAC limit in an attempt to curb drunk driving accidents, including drunk driving fatal accidents, in the United States.
However, while there is a national BAC level, it does not mean states cannot set their own penalties and make stricter laws than the national standard. For example, Michigan has recently enacted a new law designed to prevent drunk driving car accidents they refer to as “Super Drinking Driving” prevention laws. According to a recent news feature from M Live, a state representative was just arrested for and charged under the new law as a super drunk driver.
As seen in a dash-cam video depicting the entire stop and arrest process, defendant is seen and admitted to drinking two beers, and, while begging the officer not to arrest him, admitted to drinking more. The defendant also said if the officer left, he would “sit in the [expletive] weeds” until he could safely drive his vehicle home.
Specifically, the state’s definition of a super drunk driving is someone who has breath test that results in a score of 0.19 to 0.23 BAC. This means that a suspected drunk driver had between two and three times the legal limit of alcohol when driving a motor vehicle. At this BAC, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has conducted studies showing the driver would have serious difficulty with proper gross motor function, difficulty walking, double vision, balance issues, judgment issues, slowed reaction time, and possibly serious health conditions. There is no question that it would be dangerous to drive with such a high blood alcohol limit and there is a very high chance of a drunk driving car accident that could result in serious personal injury or death. However, in the case of the state representative, he has not been convicted of any crime in connection with this alleged drunk driving incident, as these are merely allegations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Watch arrest of Michigan lawmaker charged with ‘super drunk’ driving, December 3, 2015, M Live, by Jonathan Oosting
More Blog Entries: Report:
Massachusetts is Mid-Level on Drunk Driving Prevention, June 19, 2015, Boston Drunk Driving Injury Lawyer Blog