Vice President Gore Announces $1.5 Million in Federal Grants For New Mexico to Deter Drunk Driving
September 3, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 1998
Contact: Mike Russell
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vice President Gore today announced incentive grants totaling nearly $1.5 million to help New Mexico implement tough programs to combat drunk driving.
The New Mexico grants will be awarded under provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which President Clinton signed into law June 9 and which authorize more than $700 million in federal grants to states over the next six years to combat drunk driving.
"Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority, and these grants are an important step toward preventing alcohol-related traffic crashes in New Mexico," Vice President Gore said. "The people of New Mexico already have taken a tough stance against drinking and driving, and we could save even more lives by passing a tough national standard of impaired driving at .08 blood alcohol concentration -- and I continue to challenge the Congress to enact this life saving measure."
New Mexico will receive $1.2 million under the new Section 163 program. The section authorizes $500 million in federal grants to states over six years as incentives to enact and enforce laws that make it a drunk driving offense per se to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. To qualify for Section 163 grant funds in fiscal 1998, states must have enacted and be enforcing a ".08 BAC per se law" by Sept. 30, 1998. New Mexico enacted such a law which was effective in January 1994.
The remaining $254,000 the state will receive is under the Section 410 incentive grant program to help New Mexico deter drunk driving. The program, which encourages states to enact and enforce other programs that deter drinking and driving, was extended and expanded by TEA-21. TEA-21 authorizes a total of $219.5 million, $34.5 million of it this year, in Section 410 grants to states over six years, the highest level that the Section 410 program has ever received. Before the TEA-21 reauthorization of the Section 410 program, states had been provided $150 million under the program from fiscal 1992 to 1997.
"A strong message and tough state laws are bringing about an important change in society's attitude toward drunk driving, but we must continue our efforts to reduce the numbers of these crashes and the tragedies associated with them," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater.
In 1997, there were 484 people killed in traffic crashes on New Mexico streets and highways of which 45.5 percent were alcohol-related. Two hundred twenty people died in those alcohol-related crashes. The annual percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the United States dropped to an historic low in 1997. It was the first time since record-keeping began in 1975 that alcohol-related traffic deaths dropped below 40 percent of the total.
The grants will be awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Highway Administration.
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