It is important to recognize that since 2000 in Nevada alone, 46 percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol and/or drugged driving related. In fact, 60 percent of the approximately 600 people arrested for driving under the influence in Clark County so far this year were under the influence of drugs. In 2002, 9.1 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities were drug related.
Senate Bill 481 passed overwhelmingly in the Nevada Senate by a vote of 20-1, and the Nevada Assembly by 40-1. It was signed by the Governor and took effect June 11, 1999. Since that time, the legislation has not been altered despite two legislative sessions and special sessions.
My recently proposed federal legislation in Congress (H.R. 3907) seeks to combat the growing problem of drugged driving. First, it raises the awareness of drugged driving at the national level by providing funds to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for research on the prevention, detection, and prosecution of drugged drivers.
Secondly, the bill would encourage states to develop their own plans to address and combat drugged driving. Unlike federal mandates on states such as the national .08 Blood Alcohol Level for detecting drunk drivers, my bill does not set national standards on drugged driving. The proposed legislation allows states to decide what their own drugged driving standards, measurements, and even prosecution requirements ought to be.
When it comes to fighting a national epidemic to save lives, it is prudent to begin a dialogue and debate at the federal level. The fact is, many American lives can be saved if states adopt their own plans for fighting, preventing and prosecuting drugged drivers.
It does not seem fair to me that a young girl has to grow up without her father who could still be here today if not for the reckless actions of a drugged driver. No one can deny the intentions of this legislation to save lives, and prevent the grief and anguish suffered by Brittany and her family, along with the many families who have lost loved ones to drugged drivers. It is time to begin the debate on a national program to end drugged driving.