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Federal grant will help fight drunk driving in Idaho

Idaho will receive about $208,000 in federal funds to help combat drunk driving. A total of $22 million is being awarded among the states, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced earlier this week.

The federal grants are used to implement highway safety programs at the state and local levels. Idaho receives “Section 410” funds for alcohol-impaired driving prevention programs. The money can be used for activities such as enforcement of impaired driving laws, public information campaigns, and training to law enforcement officers.

“This funding will help Idaho continue the fight against impaired driving,” said Lance Johnson, ITD Office of Highway Safety (OHS) Manager. “We’ve made progress with the ‘You Drink, You Drive, You Lose’ campaign, but there is more work to do.

“The greatest tragedy is that deaths due to impaired driving-related crashes are preventable.”

While the number of deaths resulting from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes has decreased in recent years, alcohol and drugs remain significant contributing factors in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Last year, impaired drivers were responsible for more than 17,400 fatalities, 258,000 reported injuries and an estimated 1.5 million arrests.

In Idaho, close to 10,000 drivers are arrested for DUI each year. In 2002, there were 97 deaths and more than 1,100 injuries related to impaired driving, according to OHS.

The federal grants were authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and continued under the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2004.

Thirty-six states have complied with the requirements of the Section 410 program. A state becomes eligible for an incentive grant by meeting Congressionally-specified criteria, leading to tougher enforcement of drunk driving laws or evidence of the state’s effectiveness in cracking down on drunk driving.

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