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"Hard-Core" Drunk Drivers Targeted by NTSB

The National Transportation Board (NTSB) has announced its intention to focus on reducing the number of what they call hard-core drunk drivers, or drivers who have multiple arrests for driving under the influence or who drive with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher. Although the NTSB has created an 11-point program aimed at reducing hard-core drunk driving, no states have adopted the full program.

What caused this new focus on hard-core drunk driving? According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 70 percent of alcohol-related crashes involved hard-core drunk drivers. NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman is urging states to adopt the 11-point program which calls for sobriety checkpoints and jail alternatives. While some states have adopted some components of the plan, there has not been a full adoption of the program.

This new target on hard-core drunk driving reflects a culture shift. In the past, having "one for the road" was commonplace. In recent years, however, that mentality has shifted drastically. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has played a large role in this transition, as the organization has been a fixture in schools and the media since the 1980s.

Still, how exactly will this new focus affect those who fall in the hard-core drunk driver category? Joanne Michaels, director of the National Traffic Law Center, says prosecutors across the country are seeking the harshest charges available to them in their cases against hard-core drunk drivers. Also, state legislatures are enacting harsher statutes that call for increased penalties for drunk drivers.

However, these new efforts are not without criticism. Some feel that the NTSB and MADD are overreaching in their efforts. For example, the American Beverage Institute argues that these efforts are targeting individuals who are moderate social drinkers rather than the hard-core population.

Source: USA Today "NTSB pushes zero tolerance of hard-core drunken drivers," Larry Copeland, 7 December 2010

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