Dec
06
2004

Albany, NY —  As the New York Legislature reconvenes, the Coalition to Fight Hardcore Drunk Driving, comprised of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and AAA, is joining together with an ad hoc consortium of New York Traffic Safety Advocates including STOP-DWI New York, NYS Drinking Driver Program Directors Association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, Miller Brewing Company, and others to call upon the Legislature to overcome the differences in DWI legislation passed this year and adopt a comprehensive approach to the hardcore drunk driving problem. the Coalition has carefully examined the legislation adopted by each House and believes that consensus is within reach.

The joint effort targets hardcore drunk drivers or “higher-risk” drunk drivers, defined as those who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or above, who do so repeatedly, as demonstrated by having more than one drunk driving arrest, and who are highly resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatment, or education efforts.

“First and foremost, New York needs to adopt legislation that targets the hardcore drunk driver who is disproportionately involved in alcohol-related crashes throughout the nation. in fact, in New York last year, 54% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involved a driver with a BAC of .15 or higher. What’s more, the average BAC of drivers killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes was .17 in New York last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said William Georges, Senior Vice President, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “There is a clear need for a comprehensive set of laws that will directly impact the hardcore drunk driver.”

Nationally, among drivers involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2003, high BAC drivers accounted for 58% of these fatalities. Seven percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2003 involved drivers who had at least one previous driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction. It is estimated that while drivers with BACs in excess of .15 are only 1 percent of all drivers on weekend nights, they are involved in nearly 50 percent of all fatal crashes at that time.

“The problem of hardcore drinking drivers is complex, and so are the solutions. No single measure is will eliminate this serious problem,” said Kevin Quinlan, Chief Safety Advocacy Division, NTSB. “We must address this issue comprehensively to ensure that we identify, penalize and rehabilitate these hardcore offenders. This problem is so important that it is on the Board’s list of Most Wanted safety improvements in the States. the time for action is now.”

“These devastating deaths and injuries caused by higher risk drunk drivers must stop,” said Donna Kopec, Executive Director of MADD New York State Office. “Alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased last year in New York by nearly 10% from the previous year; there is still work to be done to save lives and stop these dangerous drunk drivers. We are proud to work with so many groups in New York to keep these drivers off our roads.”

Chris Cernik, General Counsel of STOP-DWI New York added, “Virtually every day a person is killed in an alcohol-related crash in New York. Before another life is lost and before another hardcore drunk driver slips through the cracks, New York needs comprehensive DWI law reform including graduated penalties for high BAC drivers and repeat offenders and enhanced penalties for drivers who refuse BAC tests, for drivers who leave the scene of a fatal crash, and for hardcore drunk drivers who cause death while driving drunk.”

“Though New York has made improvements in its drunk-driving laws, far too many people continue to be killed or injured in drunk driving crashes,” said John Corlett of New York State AAA. “The public will support sensible sentences for drunk-driving offenses. It is time to get tough on hardcore drunk drivers, who repeatedly demonstrate no regard for their own safety or the lives of other innocent motorists. AAA New York State is proud to stand with this broad range of safety advocates and concerned citizens in calling for immediate consensus on comprehensive solutions to the hardcore drunk driving problem.”

The number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities decreased three percent in 2003 to 17,013 from 17,524 in 2002 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). of those, 529 fatalities occurred in New York along with thousands of injuries. for more information on hardcore drunk driving, please visit www.responsibility.org, www.madd.org or www.ntsb.gov.

Launched in 1991, The Century Council is funded by America's leading distillers. The Foundation's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Foundation, log onto www.responsibility.org.
Contact: 
CONTACT: Leslie Kimball
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
202-425-5423
via email