In the midst of Congress' deliberations over the Transportation Reauthorization legislation which includes drunk driving provisions, The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded by America's leading distillers and dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, was joined by The Honorable Ellen Engleman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; Chief Charles Ramsey of the Metropolitan Police Department; Montgomery County State's Attorney Doug Gansler; Tom Langhorne, a board member of the National Association of State Judicial Educators and Vince Burgess, VA DMV Assistant Commissioner for Highway Safety to announce a new resource to rid our nation's highways of hardcore drunk drivers — the Hardcore Drunk Driving State Sourcebook highlights the need for states across the nation to push for a strengthened and coordinated system to fight this dangerous group of drivers.
Hardcore drunk drivers are those who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or above, who do so repeatedly, as demonstrated by having more than one drunk driving arrest, and who are highly resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatment, or education efforts.
Hardcore drunk drivers are responsible for 58% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and are 380 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers with BAC levels in excess of .15 are only one percent of all drivers on weekend nights; however, they are involved in nearly 50% of all fatal crashes during that time.
The United States Congress is currently in the process of drafting reauthorizing legislation for the Transportation Equity Act, (TEA-3) under which provisions to fight drunk driving fall. The Century Council has developed recommendations to strengthen those provisions, with a particular focus on the hardcore drunk driver.
"It is disturbing that while those tasked to draft legislation to fight hardcore drunk driving recognize this issue as a priority, few Congressional staffers know the details of what defines this dangerous group," said Susan Molinari, Chairman the Century Council. "With TEA-3's reauthorization in our midst, there is no better time to shine the spotlight on these dangerous offenders. Clearly, more work needs to be done to rid our nation's highways of the epidemic of hardcore drunk drivers. Guided by alcohol abuse, law enforcement and traffic safety professionals, The Council developed the Hardcore Drunk Driver State Sourcebook as a tool to fight the problem more effectively and to assist legislators, highway safety officials, law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, community activists and treatment professionals in developing programs to reduce and eliminate hardcore drunk driving," said Molinari.
"The data is frighteningly clear. High BAC drivers cause a disproportionate amount of alcohol-related carnage on our roads. As a prosecutor, I know these offenders require targeted measures," said Gansler. "The look back period is only 3 years, yet the numbers do not lie: 87% of drivers with high BAC levels in fatal crashes have no alcohol convictions during the previous three years."
"This sourcebook highlights key issues confronting us all in the effort to address hardcore drunk drivers. For example, every state must establish and implement statewide tracking and record keeping as a means to identify hardcore drunk drivers and insure all jurisdictions within a state have accurate information concerning an offender's record if we are to win the battle against hardcore drunk drivers," said Burgess.
"The facts, science and data in this resource book are a tool to use as we aggressively pursue highway safety," said Chairman Ellen E. Engleman. "The NTSB commends The Century Council and thanks them for our successful partnership in achieving safety results."
"It is the responsibility of state judicial educators to ensure that judges receive the appropriate training and information to assist them with this important mission," said Langhorne. "Any resource that assists in this important task is a welcome addition, so I am pleased to see such a comprehensive resource being released here today."
The Century Council has played a leadership role in the identification of the hardcore drunk driver problem and has developed effective means to combat it. In 1997, The Council launched The National Hardcore Drunk Driving Project, a single, comprehensive resource to assist legislators, highway safety officials, law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, community activists and treatment professionals to develop programs that advocate swift identification, certain punishment and effective treatment to reduce hardcore drunk driving.
In 2000, following the launch, The Hardcore Coalition to Fight Drunk Driving was formed as an effort to combine the resources of each organization's similar programs creating synergy in the fight against the hardcore drunk driver. The Coalition The Century Council, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Launched in 1991, The Century Council is funded by America's leading distillers. The Council's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Council, log onto www.centurycouncil.org.
Sr. V.P. for External Affairs
The Century Council