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                        Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Seattle, Washington)
For Immediate Release                                   December 1, 1999




Drivers who operate motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are one of our Nation's greatest public safety risks; those drivers take advantage of the privilege of driving without assuming the corresponding responsibility of driving safely. In 1996 alone, more than 46 million Americans drove their cars within 2 hours of using drugs, alcohol, or both, causing death or injury to themselves and thousands of others each year.

Thanks to the grassroots activism of organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, greater public awareness of the dangers of impaired driving, and stronger laws and stricter enforcement, we have made progress in our efforts to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the road and reduce alcohol-related fatalities. Last year, the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes reached a record low, and the number of young people killed in such accidents fell to the lowest rate ever recorded. But as anyone who has lost a loved one to an alcohol-related crash will attest, one impaired driver on the road is one too many.

That is why safety continues to be my Administration's top transportation priority, and that is why we remain committed to eliminating drunk and drugged driving. Because research shows that the risk of a fatal car crash significantly increases when a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08, I continue to challenge the Congress to enact a tough national standard of impaired driving at .08 BAC. In support of this goal, last July Vice President Gore announced incentive grants totaling $57 million to 17 States and the District of Columbia for lowering the legal threshold for drunk driving to .08 BAC. These grants make up part of the more than $500 million in Federal grants authorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which I signed into law June 9, 1998, to offer States incentives to enact and enforce laws that make driving with .08 BAC or greater a drunk driving offense.

I am pleased that today, thanks to legislation I signed in 1995, every State in our Nation and the District of Columbia has enacted zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving. I urge leaders and policymakers at the State and local level to continue to focus resources and public attention on drunk- and drugged-driving prevention and enforcement programs. Using these three powerful tools -- increased public awareness, stronger laws, and tougher enforcement -- we can make our neighborhoods and highways safer and continue to reduce deaths and injuries.

In memory of the thousands of people who have lost their lives to alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, I ask that all motorists participate once again this year in a "National Lights on for Life Day." By driving with car headlights illuminated on Friday, December 17, 1999, we will underscore the profound responsibility each of us has to drive free from the influence of alcohol or drugs.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 1999 as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to recognize the dangers of impaired driving, to take responsibility for themselves and others around them, to prevent anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs from getting behind the wheel, and to help teach our young people about the importance of safe driving.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


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