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Signed into Law: New Impaired Driving & Underage Drinking Legislation Takes Effect

Every July, we have come to expect several things… kids are enjoying freedom from school; summer is in full swing and it is time for family vacations, backyard BBQs, pool parties, and responsible outings; and new state laws are about to take effect.

The first two quarters of the year are busy ones in the Responsibility.org Government Relations & Traffic Safety Department. In the lead up to each new legislative session, we offer technical assistance and guidance to state legislators who endeavor to strengthen existing laws or close loopholes that allow impaired drivers to avoid accountability. Once legislation is introduced, our organization engages in advocacy efforts across the country. Responsibility.org supports legislation that furthers the implementation of evidence-based strategies aimed at eliminating alcohol and drug-impaired driving and safeguards against underage drinking. In addition to supporting bills that strengthen practice, we also oppose legislation that attempts to weaken existing laws and threatens the efficacy of the criminal justice system.

As in previous years, 2019 got off to a hectic start. By April, we had identified more than 175 pieces of priority impaired driving and underage drinking legislation in 42 states.

While the majority of introduced bills fail to pass state legislatures, 2019 saw several notable legislative victories. To date, 37 impaired driving bills have been signed into law in 21 states (Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming) including an all offender ignition interlock bill in Kentucky (SB 85). Other laws that passed in 2019 made technical corrections to ignition interlock programs, enhanced penalties/increased felony designations for various impaired driving offenses, furthered 24/7 program implementation, modified implied consent/testing statutes, etc. This represents an increase in impaired driving legislative activity over the 2018 sessions.

Similar to previous years, only a handful of legislatures introduced underage drinking legislation in 2019. The states that successfully passed bills that either modify social host or Good Samaritan laws are Arizona (HB 2281), Florida (HB 595), Maryland (HB 88), and Virginia (SB 1349).

Interested in learning more about the laws that passed in your state? Access the Responsibility.org Mid-Year Report on State Legislative Activity for detailed analysis of the new pieces of legislation, a summary of impaired driving and underage drinking legislative trends, and helpful resources that you can use to advocate for change in your jurisdiction.

We will continue to monitor legislative activity through the end of the year and release an amended version of this report in December.