Letter to Congressional Leaders on Legislation To Establish a National Drunk Driving Standard
I am writing to convey my strong support for a critical public safety issue under consideration by the Conference Committee for the FY 01 Transportation Appropriations bill. As you know, the Senate-passed Transportation Appropriations bill includes a provision sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg and supported by Senate Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby to help set a national impaired driving standard at .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Currently, 18 states already have .08 BAC in place as the legal limit for drunk drivers, and I strongly support making this the nationwide standard. As the bill moves forward, I urge you to also address a number of other important issues that we have raised separately with the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The final 1999 Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) assessment released today by Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater shows that alcohol-related traffic fatalities are continuing to decline and have hit a record low. However, we are still losing over 15,700 American lives in alcohol-related crashes every year—one every 33 minutes. It is imperative that we do more to save lives and keep drunk drivers off our roads. Enacting a standard of .08 BAC across the country is the next logical step. Studies have shown that a nationwide limit of .08 BAC could save an estimated 500 lives a year.
That is why I strongly urge the Conference Committee to send me a final bill that includes this life-saving .08 BAC provision. The Congress missed an opportunity 2 years ago when conferencing the TEA-21 bill to make a .08 BAC standard mandatory, despite strong bipartisan support. Since that time, we have lost over 30,000 more Americans to impaired drivers on our nation's roads. We cannot afford to wait any longer to save more lives.
Along with the thousands of families that have lost loved ones to drunk drivers, I urge you to seize this opportunity to work with your colleagues on the Conference Committee and ensure this provision is in the final FY 01 Transportation Appropriations bill.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
NOTE: Letters were sent to Ted Stevens, chairman, and Robert C. Byrd, ranking member, Senate Committee on Appropriations; and C.W. Bill Young, chairman, and David R. Obey, ranking member, House Committee on Appropriations. An original was not available for verification of the contents of this letter.
William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Legislation To Establish a National Drunk Driving Standard Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/228431