NHTSA 12-07
Monday, August 20, 2007
Contact: Heather Hopkins
Telephone: (202) 366-9550

Secretary Peters Launches National Drunk Driving Enforcement Campaign and Encourages Judicial Branch Help

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today launched 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 also released national and state statistics for alcohol related fatalities in 2006 and emphasized 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. This careless disregard for human life must stop,” Secretary Peters said.

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. Secretary 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. Secretary 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,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole R. Nason.

Secretary Peters announced the enforcement crackdown and 2006 alcohol related fatalities, including state by state break outs during a news conference at the Arlington County Courthouse in Virginia. She was joined by 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.

On August 22, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 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.

An alcohol ignition interlock device is a mechanism installed in a vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must breathe into the device. If the driver’s BAC is over the legal limit, the vehicle will not start

View the 2006 alcohol related fatality report.