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Funding incentive can save our lives

What would you say if hundreds of the 15,000 highway deaths each year that are linked to alcohol could be prevented?<!—->.

Saturday, October 07, 2000

What would you say if hundreds of the 15,000 highway deaths each year that are linked to alcohol could be prevented?

Congress said yes this week when it passed a landmark provision to convince states to change their attitude on legal alcohol limits.

The provision, contained in a $58 billion transportation spending bill, calls for the federal government to withhold up to 8 percent of its highway funds from states that do not decrease their drunken driving standard to 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. The legislation is set to begin in 2004.

In theory, states should lower the legal limit in order to retain all their funding.

Lowering the limit, in turn, should give law enforcement a stricter standard to keep drinkers off the roads and keep unimpaired drivers safe.

We hope that happens.

Tragedies and drunken driving go hand in hand. It’s a fact that is displayed in newspapers and on television sets across America.

Where there’s alcohol and a car, there’s usually a death.

Lowering the legal limit will draw some criticism from those who say it penalizes social drinkers. And lowering the legal limit does nothing about the problem of repeat offenders who drink heavily.

It’s a start, though. It’s something that will keep more drinkers from getting behind the wheel.

And, if it saves even a few lives, it will be worth it.