Skip to main content
ad info

CNN.com  U.S. News
CNN.com EUROPE:
Editions|myCNN|Video|Audio|News Brief|Free E-mail|Feedback
 

Search


Search tips
U.S.
TOP STORIES

California braced for weekend of power scrounging

Nancy Reagan says she was 'terrified' when Reagan broke hip

Court order averts strike against Union Pacific railroad

U.S. warning at Davos forum

Long Island police officer arrested in molestation case

Two more Texas fugitives will contest extradition

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

Aid flows as India quake toll soars

Davos protesters confront police

Europe remembers the Holocaust

Last rendezvous for Mir

(MORE)

 MARKETS    1613 GMT, 12/28
5217.4
-25.00
5160.1
+42.97
4624.58
+33.42

 
SPORTS

(MORE)

 All Scoreboards
WEATHER
European Forecast

 Or choose another Region:
EUROPE

WORLD

TECHNOLOGY

ENTERTAINMENT

  IN OTHER NEWS

HEALTH

TRAVEL



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
EDITIONS:
CNN.com U.S.:

LOCAL LANGUAGES:


MULTIMEDIA:

CNN WEB SITES:

CNN NETWORKS:
CNN International

TIME INC. SITES:

SITE INFO:

WEB SERVICES:

Clinton signs tougher drunken driving law

white house
Clinton stands among officials from MADD and other anti-drunken driving activists Monday at the White House  
  WEB EXCLUSIVE
On the scene with CNN's
Patty Davis at the White House

States that don't comply risk loss of federal funds


In this story:

31 states don't meet new standard

Law 'unfairly targets social drinkers'

How many drinks would it take?

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



CNN Correspondents Patty Davis and Hena Cuevas contributed to this report written by CNN.com Senior Writer Jim Morris

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States now has a national standard to determine whether a driver is legally drunk, a law that proponents say could save hundreds of lives a year. It could also be costly for states that don't comply.

 VIDEO
Not everyone agrees with the .08 standard, according to CNN's Hena Cuevas

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

Clinton talks at the ceremony

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)
 
  RESOURCES
TEST
 
  MESSAGE BOARD
 

U.S. President Bill Clinton on Monday signed into a law a bill that sets a blood alcohol limit for drunkenness at 0.08 percent, a level stricter than what is currently used by more than half the states.

"For me this is a very good day for the United States," Clinton said. He said the measure was "the biggest step to toughen drunk driving laws and reduce alcohol-related crashes since the national minimum drinking age was established a generation ago."

The president was joined in a Rose Garden ceremony by Millie Webb, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, representatives from MADD's National Youth Summit to Prevent Underage Drinking and federal legislators who led the congressional effort for the legislation.

It was adopted by the House and Senate earlier this month, culminating a three-year push by anti-drunken driving activists to have national legislation enacted.

"Alcohol is still the single greatest factor in motor vehicle deaths and injuries," Clinton said. "This law, 0.08, is simply a common sense way to stop that."

31 states don't meet new standard

Nineteen states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia already use a 0.08 blood alcohol level to indicate drunkenness, but 31 states have a limit of 0.10.

Those states that do not implement the lower number by 2004 would lose 2 percent of their federal highway money, with the penalty climbing to 8 percent by 2007.

States that adopt the stricter standard by 2007 would get back any lost highway funds.

Backers of the measure say too many drunken driving accidents occur in states with the higher 0.10 blood alcohol limit.

"We need to save lives," says Brad Fralick, executive director of the MADD chapter in Illinois. "There's no reason people need to drink and drive, and setting it at 0.08 is a reasonable standard."

Law 'unfairly targets social drinkers'

Illinois, which adopted the 0.08 blood alcohol standard in 1997, saw the number of drunken drivers involved in fatal crashes drop by more than 10 percent in the first year.

Since then, however, alcohol-related fatalities in the state are up, rising nearly 6 percent in 1999, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Critics of a national 0.08 standard, led by the liquor and restaurant industries, argue that the law unfairly targets social drinkers and does not address the true problem -- chronic drunken drivers.

carlson
The Illinois driver who caused Betsy Carlson's injuries in an accident nearly 25 years ago had a blood alcohol level of 0.08. But he was not charged with a crime because the state's blood alcohol standard then was 0.10. "I'm disabled for the rest of my life; I hurt all the time," Carlson says  

"That shifts our national focus away from a product abuser ... (to) a debate over whether or not someone who has two glasses of wine is drunk," says John Doyle, a spokesman for the American Beverage Institute.

Clinton dismissed that objection.

The new, national law "is not, contrary to what some of the propaganda against it said, about just having a drink or two after dinner," the president said.

"Lowering the limit will make responsible Americans take even greater care when they drink alcohol in any amounts if they intend to drive -- and it should," Clinton said.

How many drinks would it take?

A 170-pound man could consume approximately four drinks in an hour on an empty stomach before reaching 0.08 limit, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics cited by MADD.

A 137-pound woman could have three drinks in an hour before reaching 0.08.

MADD, which says nearly 16,000 people were killed last year in alcohol-related crashes, estimates that 500 deaths would be avoided every year if each state adopts the 0.08 benchmark.

"Every 33 minutes, a person is killed in a drunk driving crash," Webb said. "It is still the most frequently committed violent crime in our nation. But those deaths, all of these deaths, are completely preventable."



RELATED STORIES:
Congress passes national .08 blood alcohol standard for drunken drivers
October 6, 2000
National standard near to determine if drivers are drunk
October 3, 2000

RELATED SITES:
MADD ONLINE
  •  MADD National Youth Summit to Prevent Underage Drinking
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  •  NHTSA: Injury Prevention: Impaired Driving Division
American Beverage Institute
The National Commission Against Drunk Driving
  • .08 Resource Center
Intoximeters Inc. - Alcohol Breath Test

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   


Back to the top  © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.