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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 19, 1996

October 19, 1996



  SUBJECT:       Reducing Teenage Driving Under the Influence of
                 Illicit Drugs

Over the last 4 years, we have worked hard to keep drugs off our streets and out of the hands of our children. Indeed, the number one goal of the 1996 National Drug Control Strategy is to motivate America's youth to reject illegal drugs and substance abuse. All Americans must accept responsibility for teaching our young people that drugs are illegal and confronting them with the consequences of using drugs. My Administration has elevated the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Cabinet, supported drug testing of high school athletes before the United States Supreme Court, and defended the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program from congressional attempts to reduce its funding.

Despite the progress we are making in reducing overall drug use in this country, we continue to see increasing trends in drug use among teens that began in the early 1990's. We, therefore, must still do more to confront this deadly problem.

One of the critical areas where drugs threaten the health and safety of young people is on the roads. I have taken a tough stand against drinking and driving by young people -- calling for and then signing into law a tough new "zero tolerance" policy that requires States to have laws allowing judges to take away the driver's licenses of young people who drive with any alcohol in their system.

It is equally important that we be tough on those young people who drive under the influence of drugs. Every driver has the responsibility to drive safely and not injure themselves or others. The driver's license is a privilege that should not be available to those who fail to demonstrate responsible behavior. Denial of driving privileges to those who engage in illegal drug use can be a powerful incentive to stay away from and off drugs, particularly for teenagers. I believe we should consider drug-testing all minors applying for driver's licenses and requiring them to be found drug-free before they can obtain driver's licenses. Young people must understand that drug use cannot and will not be tolerated. Making licenses conditional on the driver being drug-free may prove to be an important and effective way to send that message.

State and Federal laws recognize the relation between drugs and driving. It is illegal in every State to drive under the influence of drugs that impair driving performance. Seven States have enacted "zero tolerance" laws for drugs, which make it illegal to drive with any amount of an illicit drug in the driver's body. Eighteen States suspend the licenses of persons convicted of drug offenses. And the Federal Section 410 program authorizes grants to States with aggressive laws and programs to detect and sanction driving under the influence of drugs.

To ensure that we are using every method possible to deter teenage drug use, I am directing you to develop a strategy to address the problem of young people driving under the influence of illegal drugs. Within 90 days, I would like you to report to me with recommendations on steps to be taken in at least the following areas:

       (1)  Drug testing for minors applying for licenses; in 
            particular, please provide guidance on how this can 
            best be implemented, including possible guidance to 
       (2)  "Zero Tolerance" laws that make it illegal to drive 
            with any amount of an illicit drug in the driver's 
       (3)  License revocation for those who are found to be 
            driving under the influence of drugs;
       (4)  License revocation as a sanction for other drug 
       (5)  How to eliminate obstacles to more effective 
            identification and prosecution of drivers impaired by 
       (6)  Federal incentives for effective State programs to 
            fight driving under the influence of drugs; and
       (7)  Identification of technologies to assist State and 
            local law enforcement in identifying and deterring 
            drug and alcohol impaired driving.

Your report should review current State and Federal laws and practices in these areas, the effectiveness of any such efforts in States to date, and any other areas that you believe would help to reduce the incidence of drug use by teens or driving under the influence of drugs generally. In preparing this report, you should consult with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.


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