Statement from Chris Swonger, President & CEO, DISCUS and Responsibility.org, on Introduction of Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Legislation Prioritizes Critically Important Impaired Driving Prevention
Washington, D.C. — The United States Senate has released its text for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes innovative steps supported by the spirits industry to prevent all forms of impaired driving.
We must have bold action to stop preventable impaired driving deaths, injuries and crashes, and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act delivers on this issue. We have seen a rise in total traffic deaths during the pandemic, including impaired driving fatalities. It is now critically imperative that we pass strong traffic safety legislation to save lives.
The Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act sponsored by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to establish a federal rulemaking process to implement advanced impaired driving prevention technology in new vehicles, which could save 9,400 lives annually, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
This more than 15-year effort to design vehicles that prevent impaired driving is close to reality, and we are proud to champion this historic legislation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The broadly supported Multiple Substance Impaired Driving Prevention Act is also included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This legislation will make funding available to states to maximize innovative programs and technology to eliminate multiple substance impaired driving. Additionally, it will identify, monitor, and treat impaired drivers which is key to preventing recurrence. It directs a GAO study to improve national reporting of impaired driving arrest and citation data into federal databases.
Driving impaired by one substance is dangerous, but combining substances leads to a multiplicative effect on driver impairment and can dramatically increase crash risk. This bill positions states to address impaired driving in all forms, which is vital to address this evolving and growing threat on our roads.
This legislation also improves the ignition interlock incentive grants, maximizing the most effective countermeasures to stop convicted impaired drivers from re-offending, and includes provisions to address cannabis impaired driving and improve drug-impaired driving data collection.
We appreciate the bipartisan group of Senators for their leadership to include critically important impaired driving prevention legislation in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. As Congress considers the way forward on any bipartisan legislation, we are encouraged that Congress will be able to get this important traffic safety legislation to the desk of President Biden for signature in order to save lives on our nation’s roads.
The Multiple Substance Impaired Driving Prevention Act is sponsored by Responsibility.org, DISCUS, MADD, AAA, Beer Institute, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), National District Attorneys Association, National Safety Council, National Sheriffs Association, SADD, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Education and Regulation (CPEAR), and the National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (NASID).
The legislation is sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and co-sponsored by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and by Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) and co-sponsored by Representatives Rice (D-NY), Balderson (R-OH) and Burchett (R-TN).
Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows the steepest rise in total traffic deaths since 2007, with a 7 percent increase in 2020 due to impaired driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, and other risky driving behaviors. Additionally, police-reported alcohol-involved fatalities jumped by 9 percent, and trauma center data from NHTSA shows an increase in serious injuries and deaths involving drivers at high blood alcohol concentration levels and multiple drug combinations.
About The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS)
The Distilled Spirits Council Of The United States is the leading voice and advocate for distilled spirits in the U.S., advocating on legislative, regulatory, and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.
Responsibility.org is a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empowers adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. Responsibility.org is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; Ole Smoky, LLC; Pernod Ricard USA; and William Grant & Sons. For 30 years, Responsibility.org has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families, and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, please visit Www.Responsibility.Org.