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Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.

GHSA Chairman Chris Murphy speaks at the Dec. 18 press event.
GHSA Chairman Chris Murphy speaks at the Dec. 18 press event.

2007 Holiday Crackdown Kickoff Event

December 18

Remarks of GHSA Chairman Christopher J. Murphy

Thank you, Nicole. I am grateful to you and Secretary Peters for your leadership in the fight against drunk driving. And thank you, Chief Lanier for hosting us today.

I'm glad to be here today speaking on behalf of the Governors Highway Safety Association, the national organization that represents state highway safety agencies across the nation. GHSA is proud to stand here with our partners.

Nationally, in 2006, 17,602 people were killed in alcohol related crashes, with 10% or 1,779 coming from California alone. Behind each death is a personal story. One year ago today, Juan Ramirez and his son Remigio didn't think that their short bicycle trip in the little town of Lamont, California would be anything but a quick visit to the store. They never thought that a drunk driver would run them down in broad daylight, drag them over a hundred feet and change the Ramirez family's lives forever. Eight year old Remigio died on the street, never having gotten the chance to see what potentials he may have had. Juan is still recovering from his injuries. The driver, who had put away nearly a six pack by mid-afternoon, now sits in prison. He said he never saw the father and son. That sudden and horrible crash did not happen in an instant. It began hours earlier when that driver opened his first beer of the day. And it will continue for as long as Remigio Ramirez is remembered.

"Over the Limit. Under Arrest" isn't just a slogan, but is a reflection of states' increasing intolerance of drunk driving. From coast to coast, state highway safety agencies are funding law enforcement agencies to conduct drunk driving checkpoints and saturation patrols this holiday season.

In fact, tomorrow, in my home state of California, I will announce $4 million has been allocated to police departments throughout the state to conduct drunk driving checkpoints. I'll also announce that we are erecting 750 new "Report a Drunk Driver. Call 911." signs across the state. Not only do drunk drivers have to worry about law enforcement observing their erratic driving, but now anyone with a cell phone will be reminded that they too can make a difference by reporting drunk drivers.

I want to thank all our dedicated friends in law enforcement who risk their lives keeping us safe. Thank you, Jim, for your strong leadership at IACP.

Enforcement is a large component in reducing drunk driving, but to close the loop, more must be done. To this end, GHSA is proud to be a part of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. As our good friend Glynn Birch will tell you shortly, this effort is already paying dividends in stronger drunk driving laws. GHSA supports the need for ignition interlocks for all first-time offenders and we commend Louisiana, Arizona, and Illinois for passing these life-saving laws in 2007. We are working closely with MADD so that 2008 will become the year of the ignition interlock.

The holidays are a special time and part of that is the joy of getting together with friends and family at parties and gatherings. I want to remind everyone to designate a driver at the beginning of the evening. The risk of drunk driving is too severe.

Thank you.

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