US SENATORS PUSH LAW TO FIGHT DRUNK DRIVING

US SENATORS PUSH LAW TO FIGHT DRUNK DRIVING

Two U.S. senators have introduced federal legislation that would offer incentive grants to states that enact laws to combat drunk driving.

The federal bill, sponsored by Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., and John C. Danforth, R-Mo., would provide $125 million over a three-year period to states that adopt specific measures to combat drunk driving.The bill is supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Under the proposal, a state must adopt two laws to qualify for a basic grant. The first measure is the administrative license revocation provision, which allows a police officer to take a drunk driver's license immediately if the driver fails or refuses to take a chemical test. The provision already is effective in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

The other provision that a state must follow to qualify for a basic grant is the enactment of a self-funding drunk driving enforcement program. In the program, fines paid by convicted offenders are returned to the local communities to finance comprehensive alcohol/traffic safety programs.

To qualify for a supplement grant, a state must require blood-alcohol testing in all fatal and serious injury crashes and enforce the 21-year-old minimum drinking age by issuing easily distinguished licenses to drivers under the age of 21.

In a prepared release, Sen. Lautenberg said: We know which laws work best against drunk driving. Now it's time to get states to put these laws on the books. Our bill gives states an incentive to enact these tougher anti-drunk driving measures.

Brian O'Neill, president of the insurance institute, also supported the proposed bill.

We need to keep up the attention that has been so crucial to the success of efforts to reduce alcohol-impaired driving during this decade, he said in a prepared release. Renewed efforts are needed to generate new momentum; one way to do this is to pass more of the kind of law, the administrative license suspension type, that to date has been most successful in deterring impaired driving.