In 2021 Yakima Police officers stopped a lot of impaired drivers who were well over the legal limit. But now some state lawmakers want to lower the official blood alcohol content that qualifies people as being intoxicated. Yakima Police Chief Matthew Murray says the city has experienced more than 15 traffic fatalities which he says is the highest in Yakima history.  Many of the drivers involved in traffic crashes are under the influence in the city. Last year Yakima Police say 60% of the all traffic fatalities involved impaired drivers. 335 DUI related arrests were made last year. Chief Murray says in 2021, 60% of the traffic fatalities involved impaired drivers and officers made 335 DUI arrests. That means many drivers who could have been in a serious crash were taken off Yakima roads.

Should the state lower the Blood Alcohol Content?

Democrats in the state Senate want the blood alcohol content limit lowered from 0.8% to 0.5% citing 2021 traffic statistics as the deadliest year on Washington roads since 2006. They  Washington State Patrol officials say there were 540 crashes last year that killed more than 600 people in the state.
If the rate is lowered more people would be at risk of being cited for a DUI since it would take less alcohol, depending on the size of the person, to make them intoxicated. It's a topic that will discussed during the upcoming legislative session that starts in January.

Drinking and driving? It'll cost you time in jail and money out of your pocket

If you are caught driving impaired in Washington State it's a costly mistake. Washington State Patrol Officials say a first time DUI is usually charged as a gross misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. Officials say "in all cases where a conviction is entered, there are mandatory minimum sentences, which a judge is required to impose and cannot reduce."

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