Each year, more than 10,000 people die from drunk-driving crashes.

  • 10,000 people die annually from drunk-driving crashes
  • Retired MMA fighter lost son to drunk driver
  • AB 1713 could lower CA driver's legal BAC to .05.

One retired MMA fighter’s family found out firsthand when they lost their 15-month old son Liam to a drunk driver in Hawthorne. Now, that family is advocating for stricter laws.

Two-and-a-half years ago, 15-month-old Liam Kowal lost his life when a drunk driver crashed into his aunt and his stroller while they were crossing a Hawthorne crosswalk. Moments later, his family realized what had happened.

“I ran down Hawthorne Boulevard in the middle of the road to find my son’s stroller in two pieces and my son’s little green frog just lying on the ground,” Marcus Kowal said.

Luckily, Liam’s aunt survived the accident. However, the reality of losing a son was unbearable.

“It’s a pain that will never go away. You learn to live with that pain,” Kowal said.

Since the accident, Kowal and his wife Mishel Eder have had two children and are continuing their fight against drunk driving. They created Liam’s Life Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates against drunk driving.

Currently, they are hoping to see AB 1713 known as “Liam’s Law” turned into a state law. This bill would lower the legal blood alcohol concentration level for California drivers from .08 percent to .05 percent.

“It doesn’t bring Liam back. We understand that. This is to help save other people,” Eder said.

Dr. Kimberly Petrick, with Kaiser Permanente, says a .05 BAC reading is when drivers start to become impaired.

“At 0.05 you are already having an impaired ability to react, like let’s say there’s a pedestrian or a car that changes lanes you’re already having impairment of the reaction timing and also you’re ability to coordinate and concentrate on the road,” Dr. Petrick said.

According to drinking guides, that would mean having only one drink. With DUIs costing more than $15,000 in insurance premiums, fines and ignition interlock devices; critics said the lower limit would criminalize social drinking. Kowal said it’s a price that could save lives.

“It’s been a very difficult journey. It’s a journey that no parent should have to go through. Unfortunately, it happens anyways,” Kowal said.

AB 1713 will be in front of the state’s public safety committee for a vote on March 25. If the bill passes, California will hold one of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation.