NTSB - National Transportation Safety Board

03/05/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/05/2024 17:28

Oral Statement Testimony before House Transportation Committee Hawai’i State Legislature On HB 1935 Relating to the Use of Intoxicants While Operating a Vehicle

​​Good morning, Chair and members of the Committee. My name is Tom Chapman. I have the honor of serving as the 46th Member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of House Billl 1935. This important legislation would lower the State's per se impairment threshold from .08 to .05.

Since 2013, the NTSB has recommended that states establish a per se BAC limit of .05 or lower. In 2018, Utah became the first state to do so and subsequently saw reductions in both its fatal crash and fatality rates relative to the rest of the United States. Passage of .05 legislation in Hawaii would make it the second state to embrace a change that will save lives and cut the number of senseless and completely avoidable crashes.

In 2021, there were a staggering 13,384 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the United States, the highest number since 2008. Nationally, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities represent almost one-third of all traffic deaths every year.

Various countermeasures have been tried, and some have made a significant difference. Still, the number of crashes and deaths remains stubbornly high. In Hawaii alone, alcohol-impaired driving crashes killed 354 people between 2012-2021.

More needs to be done. And research suggests that lowering the legal BAC limit to .05 will reduce fatal alcohol-related crashes by an estimated 11 percent. More than 100 countries have established a BAC limit of .05 to reduce alcohol-related crashes, and the benefits of lower BAC limits are well documented.

On a personal note, I learned just yesterday that a dear friend and former professional colleague was severely injured in a crash involving another driver who was impaired. My friend is currently receiving treatment in an intensive care unit, and her outlook is uncertain.

I mention this not because I am unique in seeing a friend or loved one seriously harmed because of impaired driving. Rather, I want to emphasize how tragically common this is. Impaired driving is a national scourge.

Because we know it works, we at the NTSB strongly support legislation that will lower the legal BAC per se limit to .05. Addressing impaired driving on America's roads requires bold leadership. We applaud Hawaii lawmakers for considering this key step.

That concludes my statement on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am happy to take your questions.