FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2007
Contacts: MADD: Misty Moyse, (469) 420-4558
NHTSA: Kathryn Henry (202) 366-6918
GHSA: Jonathan Adkins, (202) 669-9746
IACP: Wendy Balazik, (703) 836-6767 X264
Nationwide DUI Crackdown Warns Drunk Drivers Of Arrest and Prosecution During Massive Ad Blitz & Enforcement Crackdown
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters speaks at National Press Event
ARLINGTON, Va.—As state highway safety and law enforcement agencies across the nation conduct a major drunk driving crackdown over the next few weeks, their efforts are being highlighted with a massive advertising blitz. The message is clear: if you drive drunk you will be arrested and prosecuted.
To underscore the importance, representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gathered today outside the Arlington County Courthouse in Virginia, where those who don't heed the warnings will end up.
The enforcement crackdown, known as Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest., includes sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols as well as an $11 million national TV and radio campaign. The timing of the crackdown - the last weeks of summer vacation including the Labor Day holiday weekend - is a heavy travel time and period of increased drunk driving fatalities and injuries.
"Our message is simple. If we catch you driving drunk, we will arrest and prosecute you. No exceptions. No excuses," said NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason.
In 2006, there were 17,602 alcohol-related fatalities and 13,470 fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Today, NHTSA released state-by-state alcohol-related traffic statistics at the courthouse. Twenty-two states recorded increased numbers of drunk driving fatalities with Arizona, Kansas and Texas posting the highest increases.
MADD's National President, Glynn Birch, had a 21-month-old son killed at the hands of a drunk driver and a repeat offender. This month his son would have turned 21. "The grim reality is that you, your family, or someone you know will likely be impacted by the tragedy of drunk driving at some point in your life," Birch said. "That's why MADD initiated the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving-with highly visible law enforcement, like the crackdowns; alcohol ignition interlocks and development of advanced technology, we will eliminate drunk driving." Nason is the Honorary Chair of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.
Clearly, the crackdowns in combination with other anti-drunk driving measures are working. Some states did show improvement in drunk driving fatalities last year. Twenty-eight states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico had fewer deaths. The states with the largest decreases were Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
"Impaired driving is not just another traffic offense; it is a serious crime that often causes needless deaths and injuries, said IACP President Joseph Carter, Chief of the MBTA Transit Police Department. "More than two decades of research have demonstrated that sobriety checkpoints and other law enforcement efforts make a difference. They are vitally effective techniques to get impaired drivers off of our roads."
The crackdown is expected to involve thousands of local and state law enforcement agencies. In addition, Congress provided NHTSA $11 million for national advertising time to intensify the impact of the enforcement drive. State highway safety agencies have also committed funds to purchase additional advertising. The ads began airing August 15.
GHSA Vice Chairman Vernon Betkey
This past year, Arizona, Louisiana and Illinois joined New Mexico in passing legislation mandating that all convicted drunk drivers have an alcohol ignition interlock installed on their car. This breath test device measures a driver's BAC. The driver simply blows into the device before the car will start. Other states are currently considering similar legislation. Currently, interlocks are used for 100,000 offenders - or 20 percent of those convicted of drunk driving each year. MADD is committed to vastly increasing that number in the next five years to 500,000 by encouraging states to enact model laws that require alcohol ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers.
"States are well-past the point of tolerating drunk driving. Enough is enough. If you drive drunk, you will be arrested," said GHSA Vice Chairman Vernon Betkey. GHSA is working with MADD to encourage states to enact interlock laws for first-time offenders. According to Betkey, "To dramatically reduce the number of needless deaths due to drunk driving, states should implement all the technology available to them and interlocks are at the top of the list."
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is the states' voice on highway safety. The 501(c)3 association represents the highway safety programs of the states and territories on the "human behavioral aspects" of highway safety. Areas of focus include: occupant protection, impaired driving and speed enforcement, as well as motorcycle, school bus, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and traffic records.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the world's oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization of police executives, with over 20,000 members in over 89 countries. IACP's leadership consists of the operating chief executives serving the needs of the law enforcement community.
Founded in 1980, MADD's mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving calls for intensive, high visibility law enforcement, mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, development and exploration of advanced vehicle-based technology and community support. MADD is a 501c(3) non-profit, grassroots organization with approximately 400 affiliates and 2 million members and supporters nationwide. MADD's trained victim advocates served 46,000 victims/survivors in 2006. For more information, please visit www.madd.org or call (800) GET-MADD. Victims/survivors can reach MADD 24 hours, seven days a week, 1-877-MADD-HELP.