FOR IMMMEDIATE RELEASE
BEER INSTITUTE PRESIDENT SPEAKS AT TOWN HALL MEETING ON DRUNK DRIVING
Washington, DC, November 27, 2001 -Continuing its leadership role in its commitment to reducing drunk driving, Beer Institute President, Jeff Becker will be participating in today's National Commission Against Drunk Driving Town Hall Meeting; discussing various ways industry, government and other organizations can combat drunk driving. The meeting marks the 20th anniversary of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving, the only national organization that welcomes all groups committed to reducing drunk driving. Beer Institute, through its Brewers' Fund, is also sponsoring the opening lunch today. The town hall meetings are November 27 and 28 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC.
"The Beer Institute and its member brewers strongly oppose drunk driving and work diligently to be part of the solution in helping to prevent it," Becker said.
The efforts are working. The number of drunk driving fatalities has declined by 37% since 1982. And fatalities in teen drunk driving crashes declined 62% since 1982.
Becker noted that while much progress has been made, more work remains to be done. "Traffic safety experts have consistently concluded that to reduce drunk driving, the high BAC, repeat drunk driver should be the main target for public policy efforts, due to the fact that this group causes the majority of drunk driving fatalities."
Federal government statistics reinforce this point with studies that show 8 out of 10 drunk driving fatalities occur among drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher.
Becker said the beer industry supports proposals that effectively and directly target the high BAC, repeat drunk drivers and that do not impose unnecessary or unfair constraints on brewers, distributors, retailers or consumers. Proposals to create a program of graduated penalties that impose stiffer penalties on repeat offenders and those who drive at very high BAC levels, proposals that effectively prevent repeat offenders from driving by use of ignition interlocks or vehicle immobilization, and proposals that provide effective treatment of those with alcohol abuse problems are all examples of approaches that can and do work to prevent drunk driving.
Beer Institute's members have turned to the legislatures to develop public policy that will focus attention on the high BAC repeat offender. "In state legislatures throughout the country, our industry has supported stricter punishment for hard core, repeat offenders," Becker said
In the last few years alone, laws targeting high BAC repeat offenders have been passed, with the active support of brewers, in Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin. A leading brewer has also commissioned a study with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation that looks at various ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system for dealing with repeat offenders. The study also proposes solutions to the loopholes that have inadvertently been created in the system. These loopholes are believed to create scenarios in which repeat offenders are apprehended but evade full punishment.
No one is more concerned about problems caused by alcohol abuse, or is doing more to educate the public about responsible consumption, than members of the beer industry. And while more work needs to be done, recent studies indicate that progress is being made in the fight against drunk driving.
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Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association for the brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute is committed to development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility.