Wednesday, May 13, 1998

.08 -- A TOUGH LAW

Lowering the drunk driving level to .08 means sending a message to those who would carelessly risk the lives of their loved ones and of innocent citizens. We say to them today: we will not let your arrogance endanger Americans. We will not let your irresponsibility harm the helpless. We will not let your recklessness cheat us of our loved ones.

-Vice President Al Gore
May 13, 1998

Today, at a Bipartisan event, Vice President Al Gore publicly called on the full Congress to include the Lautenburg Amendment to the final highway bill, which helps to set a nationwide limit for impaired driving at .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). The Vice President was joined by Senators DeWine (R-OH) and Lautenburg (D-NJ), and by Representatives Lowey (D-NY) and Canady (R-FL), to make an urgent and strong push for this legislation.

An Urgent Need For Action. Every 30 minutes, someone dies because of a drunk driver. In 1996, of the 41,907 motor vehicle deaths, 41% -- or 17,126 -- were alcohol-related. Nearly 3,000 of these fatalities were young people under age 21. Over 80% of drivers involved in fatal crashes with positive BACs had levels exceeding .08 BAC.

The .08 BAC Standard Saves Lives. Research shows that the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash is 11 times greater at .08 than when a driver has no alcohol in their system. When all states lower their BAC limits to .08 BAC, alcohol-related deaths are expected to decrease by as many as 600 each year.

Making .08 BAC The Nationwide Standard. President Clinton and Vice President Gore endorse the Lautenburg Amendment, which helps set a national BAC limit of .08 percent for drivers age 21 and older. The bill would give states three years to enact laws to make .08 BAC the legal limit, or risk losing highway funds. Sixteen states have already adopted .08 BAC laws: Utah, Oregon, Maine, California, Vermont, Kansas, North Carolina, Washington, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii, Alabama, Idaho and Illinois.

Taking Executive Action On .08 BAC. President Clinton has already directed Transportation Secretary Slater to work with federal agencies, states, safety groups, and others to develop a plan to set a .08 BAC standard on federal property, such as national parks and military bases. The directive also instructs the Secretary to include in his plan other steps to promote the adoption of .08 BAC as the nationwide standard, including an education campaign to help the public understand the risks associated with drinking and driving, and working with tribes to adopt .08 in Indian Country.

Leading The Fight Against Youth Drinking And Driving. The President and Vice President are committed to taking action to reduce the deaths and injuries brought about by alcohol use and driving by teens. The .08 BAC standard builds on the law President Clinton signed requiring all states to have "Zero Alcohol Tolerance" laws for youth by Oct. 1, 1998, or risk losing highway funds. To date, 49 states and the District of Columbia have enacted zero tolerance laws, which prohibit youths under age 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

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