RICHMOND, FEB. 4 -- The Virginia Senate moved today to toughen laws on drunken driving, approving bills that would lower the blood-alcohol level at which it is illegal to drive and revoke the licenses of suspected drunk drivers before they are convicted.

Meanwhile, the House of Delegates killed a proposal that would have allowed voters to decide if there should be a three-day state waiting period for the purchase of a handgun.

The Virginia standard for drunken driving, if approved by the House, would be 0.08 percent of blood alcohol, compared with the current 0.10, which also is the level in the District and Maryland. The other measure would require magistrates to pull licenses for up to 90 days from people who refuse to take a breath test or blood test, or those who fail such a test, while their cases are awaiting trial.

Debate on both drunken driving measures reflected rising public anger at drunken driving and intolerance not only of chronic abusers but also of casual drinkers who take the wheel. But the Senate also heard from one of its own members who said he preferred the days when the popular mood was more easygoing.

"You've taken all the sport out of drinking and driving," said Sen. William E. Fears (D-Accomac), who recalled that during his days as a World War II bomber pilot he found it easier to fly after a few drinks.

"Let's not do any more damage than we've already done in this state to people who enjoy a little snort every once in a while," he urged.

Some members said they were so offended by Fears's plea that they changed their minds and decided to support the bill to lower the legal intoxication level. Sponsored by Sen. Robert C. Scott (D-Newport News), the bill passed 28 to 10.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. (D-Mount Vernon) calling for "administrative revocation" of driver's licenses, which passed on a 25 to 13 vote, drew criticism from some who said it represents punishment before trial.

Gartlan argued that the vast majority of those charged with drunken driving offenses eventually are convicted, but that many criminal court judges refuse to pull licenses.

Patty Herzog, state chairwoman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said, "Word of this will spread like wildfire in the bars."

The drunken driving and gun measures were among scores of bills considered as the House and Senate rushed to meet today's deadline for acting on their members' legislation. For the remaining three weeks of the session, the House will act on bills passed by the Senate and vice versa.

Opponents of the waiting period for guns argued that it wasn't needed because of another gun bill, approved by the House and pending in the Senate, that would expand the current instant background checks for purchasers of small handguns to cover all firearms.

The National Rifle Association spent thousands of dollars on newspaper and radio advertisements, direct mail and direct lobbying to defeat the waiting period measure.

"A Scud {missile} was shot down by 55 patriots," chortled Charles H. Cunningham, the NRA's deputy director for state and local affairs, after the 55 to 42 vote.

"I'll be back," said a tearful Del. Jean W. Cunningham (D-Richmond), the sponsor of the bill. She is not related to the NRA lobbyist.

Regionalism, which is a fading force in the assembly, played an important role.

Among the 21-member Northern Virginia delegation, all 10 Democrats and seven of the 11 Republicans voted in favor of the gun bill.

Sarah Brady, who lobbied on behalf of the bill, said, "The NRA painted this vote as a Northern versus Southern Virginia issue, and too many lawmakers fell for it."

"I'm especially angry with Northern Virginia lawmakers who voted against this measure," said Brady in a remarks apparently aimed at Republican Dels. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. of McLean, Richard L. Fisher of Vienna, Robert E. Harris of Fairfax and Linda M. Rollins of Leesburg.

NRA lobbyist Cunningham denounced Brady for "lying" to legislators about the circumstances of the shooting of her husband, Jim, the former White House press secretary who was partially paralyzed in the attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan.

Cunningham said none of the anti-handgun legislation supported by Brady would have prevented would-be assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. from getting the weapon he used to shoot her husband and the president.

Freshman Del. Thomas G. Baker Jr. (R-Dublin), who said his great-great-grandfather "walked home from Appomattox to Hillsville," pointed out that some urban delegates now represent 100,000 residents, twice as many as in his Southwest district.

Baker, an opponent of the gun measure, called on fellow rural delegates from Southside, Southwest and the Shenandoah Valley to "speak for our people" before redistricting further dilutes their strength.

Del. Leslie L. Byrne (D-Fairfax) read the text of an NRA radio commercial, played only on stations south of the Rappahannock River, that portrayed Northern Virginians as something other than "real Virginians."

"This is the most cynical use of divide-and-conquer I've ever seen," said Bryne.

There was considerable bashing of Washington and New York.

"D.C. has the most restrictive gun control law" in the nation, said Del. Raymond R. "Andy" Guest Jr. (R-Front Royal), who said that "as long as there is jealousy, envy, greed and criminal intent, people will die."

Del. William P. Robinson Jr. (D-Norfolk), a criminal defense lawyer, said the instant background check isn't sufficient because criminals from New York and New Jersey avoid detection by paying local residents who do not have a criminal record to buy guns for them.

In other action today, the Senate approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Robert L. Calhoun (R-Alexandria) that would allow Northern Virginia localities to implement an unorthodox land-use measure called "transferable development rights."

The proposal would let developers increase the density on their projects by purchasing development rights from other property owners. The sellers, usually farmers or others who want to preserve open spaces, then would have development on their land restricted in perpetuity.

Tonight, the House defeated its version of the land transfer measure by a vote of 49 to 46.

Also, the Senate approved a controversial plan by Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to let the Virginia Retirement System take complete ownership of the state government's ownership share in the RF&P Railroad.

The Senate approved a bill by Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Springfield) that would expand the death penalty for serial killers and murders committed during forcible and attempted forcible sodomy.

Over the opposition of the Lottery Board, the House passed and sent to the Senate a proposal to help localities offset budget cuts by requiring the state to retain a greater share of the lottery proceeds.

By cutting down on prizes, an extra $40 million a year would be distributed by a complicated formula that would mean $6.2 million a year for Fairfax County; $1.7 million for Prince William; $1 million each for Arlington and Loudoun, and about $680,000 for Alexandria.

Killed today were proposals that would have raised the speed limit for trucks to 65 miles an hour on rural interstates and established rules for surrogate motherhood.