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7 Key Pieces of State Legislation You Need To Know

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility believes that strong laws enabling swift identification, certain punishment and effective treatment are critical elements necessary to reduce drunk driving, and also believe that these elements must be coordinated into a statewide system to be effective. We also support effective and enforceable penalties for underage drinking. So far in 2014 we have formally supported legislation in over 30 states that we believe will address underage drinking and drunk driving in this way. Here are some examples:

In Tennessee, we are supporting Representative Gerald McCormick and Senator Mark Norris on their efforts through House Bill 1429 and Senate Bill 1633, respectively. These bills aim to enhance the state’s approach to reducing DWI recidivism by including requirements for a clinical substance abuse assessment and participation in an inpatient or intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program for repeat offenders. We believe that this approach will more effectively prevent recidivism by addressing the root problems of these offenders, and will serve as a model for the country on assessment and treatment of hardcore drunk driving offenders.

In North Carolina, two bills, House Bill 43 sponsored by Representative Darren Jackson and Senate Bill 434 sponsored by Senator Bill Rabon, would mandate ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all DWI offenders, rather than only high BAC and repeat offenders under current law. As part of a comprehensive solution to eliminate drunk driving, we support the mandatory and effective use of IIDs for all convicted DWI offenders. Effective use of IIDs requires proper assessment and treatment, supervision, and verification of installation for all offenders ordered to install the device.

We are supporting the efforts of Representative Bill Rehm in New Mexico to strengthen the current DWI law to penalize parents or guardians who have their child blow into their ignition interlock device so they can drive a vehicle after having consumed alcohol. House Bill 196 would impose the same harsh penalties as an offender who was driving with a license that had been revoked for a DWI. For driving on a revoked license in New Mexico, you can be sentenced to jail for up to a year and can be fined up to $1,000. We believe this harsh sanction would effectively deter a parent from this kind of irresponsible device circumvention.

This year, we are supporting legislation that would establish a 24/7 Sobriety Program like Senate File 31, as championed by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee, in Wyoming. The 24/7 sobriety program approach to reducing impaired driving originated in South Dakota with former Attorney General Larry Long to address repeat offenders. As a proven effective countermeasure to recidivism, the project is in place in at least four other states (Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and North Dakota) to date, and was included in the 2012 Federal Highway Bill as a way for states to utilize highway safety funding.

Finally, we are supporting Senator Pete Miller’s legislation in Indiana, Senate Bill 28, which would increase penalties for adults who allow underage drinking on their property. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports a majority of current underage drinkers ages 12 to 20 who consumed alcohol in the past month said the last time they drank alcohol it was either in someone else’s house (54%) or their own home (31%). Additionally, 81% of these underage drinkers said they were with two or more people the last time they drank. It is essential that social hosting be penalized in order to serve as an effective deterrent on allowing underage drinking.

The bills we are supporting during this 2014 legislative session make great strides to address the complex issues of drunk driving and underage drinking throughout the country. Join us in our fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking. Visit our website to learn more.

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