Thinking before taking the wheel

Thinking before taking the wheel

by Jessica Savage

The state of Iowa, along with other states around the country, is currently working to lower the state’s legalblood alcohol limit from .10 to .08 to avoid losing millions in federal dollars.

State Representative Steve Richardson, D-Indianola, supports the proposal and sees possibilities for real change with the bill.

“I’ve always felt we should be a little more aggressive [with the blood alcohol level],” said Richardson.

Richardson foresees the bill being implemented July 1 if the bill passes.

Richardson already feels that most people today know to have a designated driver. But he also feels this proposal is important in saving lives.

Chris Frerichs, director of campus security, also said safety is an issue.

“I think that it will make students more aware of how much they’re drinking,” said Frerichs about the proposed bill.

The difference between a blood alcohol level at .10 and .08 could mean just a couple of drinks.

According to the National Alcohol Awareness Test, a 180-pound person who had 6-8 drinks would have a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher. For that same person, to stay between .05 and .09, they could only have 4-5 drinks.

Although the legislature is looking into this bill in an attempt to cut down on drunk driving and its resulting accidents, money is the driving force.

“It still boils down to the federal government saying you have to do it or you lose your federal highway money,” Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson said in The Des Moines Register.

Richardson said that Iowa is “being held hostage by the federal government” because the state needs that money during the difficult economic year.

Although there may be different motives behind why the bill may pass, some are just happy to see it proposed.

“I think it’ll curb drunk driving if it’s enforced,” junior Ashley Ostroski said. “Anything that can be done to curb that will be worth it.”

The Indianola Police Department has their own conclusions on what will happen if the proposed bill passes.

“[It] just makes sense that our arrests will go up,” Police Chief Steve Bonnett said.

During the year 2000, the Indianola Police Department ticketed 77 people for driving under the influence while 63 people were ticketed in 2001. Already in 2002, the IPD has issued 12 tickets.

Bonnett expressed some concern over the proposed law. He said that, for example, a 100-pound person would have to be very careful about how many drinks they had with their dinner.

Despite how this proposed law will effect the future, driving under the influence has already affected the Simpson community.

Simpson students Jason Bruning and Brad Guill were both involved in fatal accidents in 2001 where alcohol was involved.

Guill died in an accident where it is suspected that he was under the influence, while Bruning was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

“I’d like to think [the proposed law] will make a difference but most people who are driving drunk are already well past the legal limit,” said senior Heath Sollars.

Frerichs said that learning about how much alcohol one should drink and how alcohol affects people differently is most important.

“The best way to curb drunk driving is through education,” said Frerichs.