Landmark legislation sets the policy framework to eliminate drunk driving in America

Washington, D.C. — Today Mothers Against Drunk Driving praised the leadership of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairwoman Eleanor Holmes Norton along with House Energy & Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky, and Representative Debbie Dingell for including the HALT Act in the Moving Forward Act.  This legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and would require the Department of Transportation to issue a rulemaking in the near future to require cars to passively detect drunk drivers and to take appropriate action.

“This is arguably the most important highway safety legislation in modern day history,” said MADD National President Helen Witty.  “In the strongest possible terms, MADD thanks the visionary leadership of Chairman DeFazio and Chair Norton, Chairman Pallone, Chair Schakowsky, and Rep. Dingell for setting in motion the elimination of drunk driving.”

The legislation includes the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving Act, which was authored by Rep. Dingell following the death of five Dearborn residents, Issam and Rima Abbas and their children Ali, Isabelle, and Gisselle, who were killed by a drunk driver in January 2019.

The Moving Forward Act takes a technology neutral approach and gives the auto industry a reasonable amount of time to include future drunk driving technologies in all vehicles.  Drunk driving remains the biggest killer on our roadways so the benefits of requiring drunk driving detection technology in all vehicles is overwhelming in terms of lives saved.  Simply put, this technology cannot be a safety option.

Europe, through its European New Car Assessment Program, or EuroNCAP, has set similar timelines to use passive automotive technology to detect alcohol impaired drivers by 2025.

During a hearing in early 2019, Witty testified before Chair Schakowsky’s subcommittee and challenged the auto industry and suppliers to make drunk driving prevention technology commercially available and for NHTSA to begin a rulemaking as soon as possible.  By including the HALT act in this legislation, we have just made major progress toward this goal.

In addition to the vehicle safety provisions, the legislation provides critical funding and other tools needed to combat drunk driving on our roads today.  The bill makes safety a top priority by strengthening traffic safety requirements for states and increasing transparency of states’ performance in meeting annual safety goals and use of program funds.

The legislation now moves to the Senate where Senators Tom Udall and Rick Scott have championed this cause.  “We look forward to working with Senator Udall and Senator Rick Scott to pass this federal rulemaking into law and save an estimated 7,000 lives per year,” said Witty.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 390,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.