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A LOWER BLOOD-ALCOHOL LIMIT WOULD SAVE LIVES

Much has been reported lately about the measure now before our State Legislature to lower the legal limit of blood alcohol while driving from .10 to .08. President Clinton, the U.S. Senate and Gov. Pataki have come out in favor of this measure, in order to save lives and reduce the number of DWI crashes.

Of course, the measure does have its opposers, mainly the alcohol industry, which maintains that drivers with blood-alcohol levels below .10 don't cause as many DWI deaths as those with higher blood-alcohol levels.

As the parents of wonderful sons who were killed by drunk drivers, we can attest to the fact that it doesn't make much difference what the driver's blood-alcohol level was.

What matters is that the person was impaired, and because of that, a loved one is dead.

As co-coordinators of Niagara County's Mothers Against Drunk Driving Community Action Team, we urge everyone to contact our state legislators and urge them to support the .08 measure. It is proven that it will save lives.

MADD's research shows that in the first five of the 15 states that already have .08 legal levels, a 16 percent to 18 percent reduction occurred in the proportion of fatal crashes with a fatally injured driver.

The study concluded that if all states adopted .08 blood-alcohol levels, we could save 500 to 600 lives annually. Those 500 to 600 people represent countless family members who would be spared the grief, trauma and devastation a DWI loss causes.

These .08 laws are not about drinking. They are about drinking and driving. Laboratory and on-road research shows that all drivers, even the most experienced, are significantly impaired at .08 with regard to critical driving tasks.

A 1991 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that at alevel of .08, virtually everyone experienced dangerous impairment in driving skills.

The .08 blood-alcohol level represents about four to five drinks for an average man in one hour on an empty stomach. This is not social drinking by anyone's standard. At .08, drivers are clearly impaired and pose a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

Luanne Zuccari Mary Incorvia Niagara Falls

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