By threatening to withhold federal highway money Congress eventually forced all 50 states to adopt the .08 blood-alcohol content as the level at which drivers would be prosecuted. Minnesota was the last state to fall into line.
Many state officials resented the strong-arm tactics of the federal government more than they objected to the lowering of the blood-alcohol content level. Writing drunken driving laws had traditionally been the prerogative of states and while federal officials didn't want to preempt that state prerogative they knew the threat of withholding highway money from the states would be as effective as any federal law.
Whether one agrees with the change or not, it's now the law in Minnesota.
Now that Minnesota has adopted the .08 percent standard as state law it should not be undermined by prosecutors who may have preferred the .10 percent standard. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, are right when they call for no prosecutorial discretion or variance from the .08 standard.
Machines that measure blood-alcohol content are more accurate than they used to be and evidence of impairment must usually exist before a driver is tested. So why not prosecute those who are caught at a .08 level?
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