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An Ongoing Battle

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In December, a federal report identified Utah as the state with the lowest drunken-driving fatality rate in the country. That’s good news!

A month earlier, though, Mothers Against Drunk Driving gave Utah a B-minus grade for efforts to prevent drunken driving. That’s down from an A-minus the last time MADD graded states. That’s news that isn’t so good!

The message? While there’s been progress in recent years in the battle against drunken driving in Utah, there’s a lot more to do. In 2001, for example, 68 people died in alcohol related accidents on Utah highways. That’s a fourth of all fatalities.

Utah lawmakers will be asked once again during the upcoming legislative session to address drunken driving issues. One notable measure would make it harder for repeat offenders to slip through some gaping judicial cracks. Before accepting a guilty plea, prosecutors would be required to check an offender’s past for prior DUI convictions.

The measure deserves swift legislative action.

But attention also needs to be given to other helpful proposals. Lower the acceptable blood-alcohol content for people who’ve been previously convicted of drunken driving. And make it a primary offense to drive without using a seat belt.

Drunken driving remains a despicable, yet preventable scourge. KSL believes there is no excuse for complacency in the ongoing battle to reduce its tragic consequences.

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