The Transportation Department (DOT)
has kicked off its annual "Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest" winter
holiday crackdown involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the
At the same time Transportation Secretary LaHood is
highlighting the new "No Refusal" strategy that a number of states are
employing to put a stop to drunk driving.
Through the "No Refusal" strategy, law enforcement officers
are able to obtain warrants quickly from "on call" judges in order to take blood
samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.
"Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury
on our roadways," said LaHood. "I
applaud the efforts of the law enforcement officials who have pioneered the 'No
Refusal' approach to get drunk drivers off our roads. And I urge other states
to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can't skirt the law and
are held accountable."
According to DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), a large proportion of people in many states pulled over for DUIs
refuse to take an alcohol breathalyzer test.
The latest data show that the states with the highest refusal rates
included New Hampshire at 81 percent; Massachusetts at 41 percent; Florida at
40 percent; Louisiana at 39 percent and Ohio at 38 percent.
More guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions are
reported in states that have adopted "No Refusal" programs. States already employing this strategy to
get drunk drivers off of their roads include Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Kansas,
Missouri, Illinois, Utah, Idaho, and Arizona.
"MADD is proud to support NHTSA, as well as our heroes
in law enforcement, in their focus on 'No Refusals,'" said MADD National
President Laura Dean-Mooney."Working together,
we can make our roadways safer and eliminate drunk driving in the U.S."
"When it comes to drunk driving, we cannot afford to have
repeat offenders," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The 'No Refusal' strategy helps support
prosecutions and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the
road. I want to remind everyone this holiday season: if you're over the limit,
you're under arrest. So please, for safety's sake, find a designated driver or
take a taxi if you are under the influence."
It is against the law in all states and the District of
Columbia to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of .08 or
higher. Yet, NHTSA data show that last
year, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including
753 in December alone. Agency trend
data have consistently shown an increase in fatalities during the holiday