NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB CHAIRMAN APPLAUDS VIRGINIA'S TOUGH STANCE ON DRINKING AND DRIVING OFFENDERS

May 27, 2004

Washington, D. C. - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners today praised Virginia Governor Mark Warner and state lawmakers for their commitment to getting drunk drivers off of Virginia's roads.

"The bills signed today affirm Virginia's commitment to aggressively pursue safety on their roadways and they also serve as notice that drinking and driving will not be tolerated in Virginia," Engleman Conners said at today's signing ceremony for the Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs Omnibus Bill. The Driving Under the Influence Omnibus Bill is the result of efforts by Governor Warner's Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs.

Chairman Engleman Conners thanked all fifteen bill sponsors and especially Delegates Robert Bell and Robert McDonnell, and State Senators William Roscoe Reynolds, Kenneth Stolle, and Thomas Norment, Jr. for their efforts in getting House Bills 667, 1130, 1136 and 1138 and Senate bills 202, 329 and 384 passed and implementing the Safety Board's recommendations on hard core drinking and driving.

To recognize this significant step in promoting highway safety in Virginia, Chairman Engleman Conners presented a State Safety Leadership award to Governor Warner. She praised Virginia's new drinking and driving laws as, "a tremendous step forward," and challenged other states to make the commitment to zero tolerance for drunk driving.

Stricter punishment for drunk drivers with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) and repeat offenders is one of the Safety Board's Most Wanted safety improvements. "Safe highways start with safe drivers. It is absolutely critical that every person behind the wheel be alert, attentive and sober," said Engleman Conners. As part of its Most Wanted program the Safety Board has called on states to enact drinking and driving legislation that provides for frequent, statewide sobriety checkpoints, stricter sanctions for those arrested with a high BAC (0.15 or greater), vehicle sanctions for DUI offenders, a zero BAC requirement for convicted DUI offenders upon re-instatement of their driver's license, and the elimination of plea-bargaining and programs that divert DUI offenders and purge the offense record.

With the signing of today's bills the Commonwealth of Virginia lowers the high BAC level which triggers stiffer fines and mandatory jail time from .020 to .015, requires that vehicles of repeat DUI offenders (three or more offenses) be seized, strengthens the license revocation provision, and toughens penalties for drivers refusing breathalyzer tests. The new laws also impose a zero BAC restriction on re-instated licenses of convicted offenders and increase license restrictions for offenders who meet or exceed the high BAC limit. Statewide sobriety checkpoints are already part of Virginia's campaign against drunk driving.

Governor Warner signed the DUI bills at the Capitol Building, South Portico, Capitol Square, in Richmond, Virginia. Also present at the signing were the Honorable Whittington Clement, Virginia Secretary of Transportation and Co-Chair of the Governor's Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs, and the Honorable John Marshall, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Co- Chair of the Governor's Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.