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GHSA News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2010

Contact: Kara Macek
(202)789-0942, ext. 14

States Working Hard to Deter Drunk Drivers

Technology to Play a Key Role in Aug. 20 – Sept. 6 Crackdown

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Drunk driving is not an accident—it’s an epidemic of blatant disregard for human life. Each year, nearly 12,000 people die on our roads due to drunk driving. That would be equal to about 30 jumbo jets crashing each year. In California alone, over 1,000 people died at the hands of drunk drivers in 2008.

No one should ever get that late-night phone call from the police telling you your loved one has died due to a drunk driver. This is why GHSA's member State Highway Safety Offices are joining forces with law enforcement officers across the country to take part in the national Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. crackdown this Labor Day holiday period.

From August 20 through September 6, police in every state will be out in full force conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to catch drunk drivers. This high visibility law enforcement is supported by $31 million in national and state advertisements.

This year, more states are turning to technology to help fight drunk driving. Michigan will debut its iPhone app, the Michigan DUI Tracker. According to Michigan, this first-of-its-kind application uses the phone’s GPS system to remind users that law enforcement can be anywhere at any time, and it gives users options to call a taxi or phone a friend for a safe and sober ride home.

Many states are increasingly using Twitter, Facebook and other technologies to spread awareness about the crackdown. Georgia is broadcasting its Operation Zero Tolerance message on the JumboTron screen at UGA football games. Texas is running new web and mobile phone ads illustrating the choice between getting a sober ride or risking a DWI by using an arresting image of a vehicle that is part police patrol car and part taxi cab.

Ignition interlocks are another promising technology to deter drunk driving. These devices, connected to a car’s ignition, monitor the presence of alcohol in the driver and prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected. Twelve states have made ignition interlocks mandatory or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders. Later this year, GHSA and NHTSA will bring together state highway safety officials to meet with ignition interlock practitioners and share best practices on program implementation. This effort will assist states in developing the most effective ignition interlock programs.

A full list of state-specific crackdown efforts is available on GHSA's website.

For current drunk driving laws, visit: www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/impaired_laws.html.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.