The Hawai‘i Alcohol Policy Alliance (HIAPA) has focused their efforts on keeping roads safe by advocating to lower the State’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from .08 to .05. In the previous legislative session, the .05 bill had support including the Department of Transportation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Hawai‘i State Association of Counties (HSAC), and the Maui’s Prosecuting Attorney’s office, among others. Despite the amount of support and little public opposition, there wasn’t political will to move the bill through the House.
But the Hawai‘i Alcohol Policy Alliance is not giving up. Lives are at stake. HIAPA recently co-sponsored a memorial rally on Maui to honor Hannah Brown, a teenager who lost her life a few years ago because of a drunk driver. We need fewer events to remember the dead and more action from lawmakers to protect the living.
The rise in traffic fatalities has been called “alarming” by a Department of Transportation official. However, these declarations do little to ensure public safety in our islands. Our elected officials passed on the opportunity this year to lower the BAC level from 0.08 to 0.05. Two Representatives lost their seats in part due to their arrests for driving under the influence. So, it is clear the community is attentive and expects more constructive action from their elected officials.
HIAPA looks forward to reintroducing this measure this upcoming 2023 legislative session and is working to garner support to see more success this year. Each death caused by drunk driving is preventable. We sincerely hope lawmakers will not again pass on the opportunity to save lives.