Spitzer, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Urge Safe Holiday Season

Attorney General Spitzer and Marge Lee of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today urged all New Yorkers to be sober and safe while driving during the holiday season.

As part of MADD's "Tie One On for Safety" campaign, safety-conscious New Yorkers are tying a red ribbon to their family vehicles to remind other motorists not to drink and drive.

"The holidays are traditionally a dangerous time on our roadways with more traffic, parties and increased alcohol consumption. Last year alone, more than 1,600 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve," Spitzer said. "The Tie One On for Safety campaign will help save lives during the holidays and throughout the year."

Ms. Lee said: "The holiday season should be a joyous time for all families in New York. Let's not turn Christmas eve into Christmas mourning."

MADD is distributing more than 250,000 red ribbons to New York motorists as part of the campaign. The ribbons are available through MADD chapters and at many malls, schools and community centers. In addition, the New York State Thruway Authority is distributing the ribbons at Thruway toll booths.

Spitzer, a longtime proponent of stronger DWI laws, and members of his staff are participating in MADD's public safety campaign.

Spitzer and Lee, who serves as the public policy liaison for the statewide MADD organization, used the event to reiterate their call for approval of a comprehensive anti-DWI legislation. Spitzer has proposed the "None for the Road" anti-DWI agenda, which includes the following elements:

  • Requiring the extended revocation of a driver's license if an individual is convicted for a third DWI offense within five years, or fourth offense within 10 years, and increasing criminal penalties for repeat offenders who commit vehicular manslaughter;
  • Strengthening penalties for those who operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above .20. These heavy drinkers have been associated with the greatest number and most severe crashes;
  • Lowering the per se level of intoxication for operation of motor vehicles from the current .10 BAC standard to .08. The approval of this legislation is a condition of receiving federal transportation aid. More than a dozen other states have already approved the measure;
  • Authorizing the discovery of records relating to blood samples taken by a hospital providing care to an injured driver. The records could then be used to prosecute a person for vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault;
  • Creating a statewide program that uses ignition interlock devices as a condition ofsentencing for DWI offenses. The device prevents the use of a vehicle by an intoxicated person; and

Spitzer and Lee called on legislative leaders to make action on anti-DWI initiatives a top priority this year. Since approval of several landmark laws in the mid-90s, there has been little action on DWI in New York in recent years.

"New York was always a leader in the fight against drunk driving and can be so again with timely action on these and other initiatives," Spitzer said.