October 23, 2000
"This .08 standard is the biggest step to toughen drunk driving laws and reduce alcohol related crashes in a generation. It is estimated that it will save at least 500 lives every year. For me, this is a very good day for the United States."
President Bill Clinton
October 23, 2000
Today, at the White House, President Clinton signed into law a major safety provision to help set a nationwide impaired driving standard at .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Significant progress has been made to reduce drunk driving deaths across the country, but too many lives are still being lost due to impaired drivers. In 1999 alone, 15,786 Americans were killed in alcohol-related crashes, including over 2,200 children. A national standard will save an estimated 500 lives annually, helping make our nation's highways and streets safer for all Americans.
CREATING THE FIRST-EVER NATIONAL IMPAIRED DRIVING STANDARD. The FY 2001 Transportation Appropriations bill which President Clinton signed today includes a lifesaving provision that will help to set the first-ever national impaired driving standard at .08 BAC. Drunk driving deaths have dropped to an historic low, but every 33 minutes another life is lost in an alcohol-related crash. As a crucial step toward reducing drunk driving deaths and related injuries, President Clinton has fought to create a nationwide blood alcohol content limit at .08 percent for drivers age 21 and older. Studies show that drivers at .08 BAC have difficulty with critical driving tasks, and are at an approximately 13 times greater risk for being killed in a single motor vehicle accident. Once all states set their BAC limits to .08, an estimated 500 lives could be saved and thousands of injuries could be prevented each year.
IMPOSING TOUGH PROVISIONS TO HELP PUT THE STANDARD IN PLACE. The bill gives states until FY 2004 to adopt .08 BAC as the impaired driving standard or risk losing 2% of their federal highway construction funds, and an additional 2% each year up to an 8% loss by FY 2007. Currently, 19 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have .08 BAC limits. The 19 states are: AL, CA, FL, HI, ID, IL, KS, KY, ME, NH, NM, NC, OR, RI, TX, UT, VT, VA, and WA.
BUILDING ON A STRONG RECORD OF COMBATING DRUNK DRIVING. Today's action is part of a broad Clinton-Gore Administration effort to reduce alcohol-related crashes and underage drinking and driving, and to improve highway safety. In 1995, President Clinton signed a law similar to the .08 BAC provision to impose zero tolerance for underage drinking. To date, all 50 states have adopted zero tolerance laws that makes it illegal for youth under age 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. In 1998, the President directed the Department of Transportation to help set a .08 BAC standard on federal property and establish an education campaign to help the public understand the risks associated with drinking and driving.
URGING CONGRESS TO FOCUS ON AMERICA'S PRIORITIES. The Republican leadership has proposed a budget that threatens our nation's well-being by failing to pass investments in key education priorities, targeted tax cuts for working families, an affordable prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries, a meaningful Patients' Bill of Rights, hate crimes legislation, equal pay for women, and fairness for immigrants. Congress also has made virtually no progress toward passing a minimum wage increase, despite a commitment from Speaker Hastert to do so. President Clinton called on Members of Congress to do their job by investing in America's priorities before returning to their districts to campaign for re-election.