DOT Launches National Drunk Driving Enforcement Campaign

Yesterday, at a news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse in Virginia, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced a national drunk driving enforcement crackdown and appealed to the judicial branch to use all the tools it has available to keep drunk driving offenders off the roads. She was joined by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole R. 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.

"We see far too many people suffer tragic injuries and loss of their loved ones as a result of drunk driving," Peters said. "This careless disregard for human life must stop."

The announcement coincided with the release of national and state statistics for alcohol related fatalities in 2006. In 2006, 13,470 fatalities occurred in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator who had a .08 or above Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) compared with 13,582 in 2005. Peters emphasized the critical role the judicial system plays in solving this national problem.

The media and enforcement campaign will run through Labor Day and include thousands of police agencies across the nation. Peters added that the department is investing $11 million to support its national TV and radio campaign, "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest."

"Our message is simple. If you drive drunk you will be arrested and prosecuted. No exceptions. No excuses," Nason said.

Tomorrow, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will convene a meeting with representatives from the judicial system, including judges, prosecutors, and parole officers, in Washington, D.C. to discuss the role of alcohol ignition interlocks in reducing drunk driving fatalities. Currently interlocks are used for 100,000 drunk driving offenders each year, or about an estimated 20 percent of those cases for which they could be prescribed. Of the 1.4 million impaired driving arrests each year, one third involve repeat offenders.

To view the 2006 alcohol-related fatality report, visit www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810821.PDF.

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