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Wednesday, August 29, 2007
U.S. Transportation Department Launches National Drunk Driving Enforcement Campaign
A national drunk driving enforcement crackdown was launched recently, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters urged the judicial branch to use all the tools it has available to keep drunk driving lawbreakers off the roads. While making public the national and state statistics for alcohol related fatalities in 2006, she also underscored the costs of drunk driving in America.
"We see far too many people suffer tragic injuries and loss of their loved ones as a result of drunk driving," Secretary Peters said. "This careless disregard for human life must stop."
In 2006, there were 13,470 crash fatalities involving at least one automobile or motorcycle driver who had a .08 or above Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), compared to 2005’s total of 13,582 fatalities. Secretary Peters stressed that the judicial system plays a critical role in solving this nationwide problem.
The media and enforcement campaign will include thousands of police agencies across the nation, and will run through Labor Day. Secretary Peters added that the Department is authorizing $11 million to be spent in support of its national TV and radio campaign, "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole R. Nason said, "Our message is simple. If you drive drunk you will be arrested and prosecuted. No exceptions. No excuses."
The enforcement crackdown and 2006 alcohol related fatalities, including state-by-state breakdowns, were announced by Secretary Peters during a news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse in Virginia. Accompanying her was Administrator Nason; International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) President Joseph Carter; Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) President Glynn Birch; Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Vice Chair Vernon F. Betkey, Jr.; and Maureen McCormick, Assistant District Attorney, Nassau County, N.Y.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will conduct a meeting in Washington, D.C. on August 22 with representatives from the judicial system, including judges, prosecutors and parole officers, to discuss the possibility of reducing drunk driving fatalities by implementing alcohol ignition interlocks. An alcohol ignition interlock device is an instrument mounted in an automobile's dashboard. The driver must breathe into the device before he or she can start the vehicle. The vehicle will not start if the driver's BAC is over the legal limit.
Right now, interlocks are used for 100,000 drunk driving offenders each year, or roughly 20 percent of those cases for which they could be imposed. Of the 1.4 million impaired driving arrests each year, one third involve repeat offenders.
Click here to view the 2006 alcohol related fatality report.
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