August 30, 2004
Drinking and Driving – DON’T!On Labor Day, we celebrate the achievements of the American workforce. Many of us take advantage of the three-day weekend to go on one last summer road trip. Unfortunately, the good spirits of Labor Day are often darkened by tragedy on our roads and highways, the result of foolish decisions to mix drinking and driving.
This Labor Day, let’s renew our commitment to drink responsibly. And let’s keep up Iowa’s recent progress in reducing the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths.
On July 1, 2003, the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers in Iowa was lowered from .10 to .08, essentially lowering the limit by one drink per hour. In addition, the new law called for a 30-day license suspension for drunk drivers involved in a crash that causes injury or property damage.
In order to reach .08 blood-alcohol content, a 170-pound male would have to consume 4 to 5 drinks in one hour on an empty stomach. A 130-pound female would have to consume 3 to 4 drinks.
Since the law was toughened last year, alcohol-related crashes in Iowa are down 19 percent, and deaths as a result of these crashes are down 15 percent. The new limit has also yielded a 5 percent increase in drunken-driving arrests, as well as a 9 percent increase in first-time violators.
Concerns that the new limit would lead to a drastic increase in the number of operating-while-intoxicated arrests have been proven to be overblown. The new law has simply given Iowans stronger incentives to act responsibly when we consume alcohol.
Changing the legal limit put Iowa in line with the national drunk-driving standard approved by Congress in 2000, making us eligible for $45.6 million in federal road money between 2004 and 2007.
Remember: Safe driving depends on judgment, vision, and reaction, all of which can be significantly impaired by alcohol consumption.
So on this Labor Day, please make a personal commitment never to drink and drive. And do your friends and loved ones a favor by sharing some of the information in this column. The life you save may be your own.
I wish you all a wonderful and safe Labor Day.