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oli mny 19 years as a college teacher and administrator, I have never before

olt compelled to write a letter to the House of Representatives; however, when it comes to the proposed 21 year old drinking age, my feelings and Experiences are too strong to deny. As you may know, Illinois has a 21 year

c drinking law; however, our friends across the river in Iowa permit drinking at 19 and, since many of our students find the trip across the Mississippi site convenient, I have been able to watch the effect of that law on our * dents. Although no age is a perfect predictor of maturity, it is clear on

ir campus that the younger the student, the lower the quality of decisions
*ade involving alcohol consumption. In my opinion, if the minimum age for
isrinking were raised nationally to 21 years of age, the level of vandalism
and attrition would decrease significantly on our campus and achievement would
increase marketedly.

I applaud you and your colleagues for sponsoring this bill and wish you success.

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N. 811 Jotteron
Spokane, WA 98200
(509) 466-3600 or 460-2342

It is our understanding that October 19 18 the date set for the second day of hearIngon HR 3870, the bill which would make it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in interstate commerce to any person under 21. Our group felt that your Subcommittee would be quite interested in why we so emphatically support HR 3870.

Citizens Against Alcohol-Related Traffic Accidents (CARTA), 18 a broad-based citizens group which has gained the support of the Spokane community (evidenced by over 3,000 signatures collected in one week) for our efforts to end the needless tragedies caused too often by drivers who have been drinking.

Our situation is directly affected by HR 3870. The legal drinking age in Idaho is 19; in Washington 1t 18 21. The city of Spokane, Washington, is located just 20 miles from the Idaho border, allowing young people to have access to alcoholic beverages within a half-hour's drive. Just across the state line in Idaho are row after row of night clubs and dance halls attracting not only 19 to 21 year olds, but also young people under 19 and over 21. Spokane County has five colleges with a total enrollment of nearly 22,000 students, and a total population of approximately 14,000 19 and 20 year olds who are permanent residents. As you might Inagine, the drive to Stateline, Idaho, 1. a very popular one among students and young people.

But it is also a deadly drive. Over the three years, 1979 to 1981, 23 people have been killed in drinking driver accidents on Idaho to Spokane connecting routes. An astounding 83% of the drinking drivers were under 25 years of age; and fully half of the drinking drivers who caused fatal accidents were under 20 years old. Not only have drinking youth caused fatalities, they have contributed significantly to the number of injuries and property damage happening within in our county.

To quote a May 4, 1981, article entitled "Weekend Slaughter“ printed in our local paper, the Spokane Chronicle:


"It's a problem that has been with Spokane a long time young people migrating every weekend to Idaho drinking establishments where they can drink beer at age 19, two years sooner than Washington's minimum age of 21. Then, after an evening of drinking, they drive home through a gauntlet of reckless drivers.

Rep. Florio
October 10, 1983
Page 2

When that procession begins, the 20-nile trip fron State Line to Spokane 18 not safe, even for a driver who hasn't touched a drop of alcohol. Cars weave in and out of traffic, many times at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Accidents

and injuries are frequent. Patalities are routine. In describing just one of those fatal accidents, the paper reported the words of a Washington State trooper:

"We figure the car was moving at a minimum of 110 miles an hour when it left the road. It bounced and flew into the air three different times before smashing into a fence post at the corner of the field."

I arrived a couple of minutes after it happened. The driver and passengers had been thrown out of the car. Some people had stopped and were trying to help. There was pandemonium and everyone was screaming."

That accident took the lives of two Spokane women. One was 18, the other 19. They were sisters. They had been drinking with friends at State Line, Idaho, and were on their way home when the accident occurred. The fact that one sister was just 18 and had been drinking in Idaho illustrates Idaho's permissive attitude which commonly allows even 15 and 16 year olds to drink without being checked for ID's.

A similar concern for this Idaho 19 year old drinking age 18 shared by our sister communities to the south, Pullman and Clarkston, whose Idaho counterparts, Moscow and Lewiston, constantly lure Washington under-21-year-olds across the border.

Despite strong public concern, Idaho has not yet accepted its responsibility to raise its legal drinking age. By its inaction, Idaho has sanctioned the disproportionate numbers of drinking-related accidents caused by youth, and has allowed our youth to keep on dying.

We urge

We've seen far too much death, injury, and destruction on our highways. the Subcommittee on Commerce, Transportation, and Tourism not only to support, but to champion HR 3870. It 18 your chance to help make our highways safer for all of us, and to protect the future of our youth!


Don Griffithse

Don Griffiths, Chairperson for
Citizens Against Alcohol-Related
Traffic Accidents



ar Drinkin

Recently, public attitudes toward drunk driving 2. the severity of the punishment and
have genuinely changed. A great deal of atten. 3. the speed and certainty with which the
tion is being focused on the problems caused by punishment is administered when an of
alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers. A number of tender is apprehended
citizens' groups, consisting of people who are led Too often, legal ettorts concentrate on the se-
up with drunk driving, have formed and are gain verity of the punishment for drunk driving, and
ing visibility and support for their cause. One of place too little emphasis on the other two compo-
the most noticeable of these is Mothers Against nents. Of course, it is logical to assume that
Drunk Drivers (MADD), which already has nearly severe penalties will act as a deterrent to DWI,
100 chapters nationwide, although it has been in but evidence indicates that the reverse may actu-
existence less than three years

ally happen in some states that have severe
Federal, state and local governments are re- penalties on the books, they haven't worked be-
sponding to the increased pressure The Presi cause judges are too reluctant to impose them
dent has appointed a commission on drunk the courts become congested plea bargaining,
driving to study the problem and recommend probation and court supervision are abused and
new legislation Several states have already police morale drops because so many guilty
toughened their DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) people get oft
laws, and bills are pending in a number of

Only where severe penalties are accompanied
other states

by a public perception that there is a high proba-
Indeed, much of the activity directed at the bility of being caught and punished have DWI
problem concentrates on new laws or changes to laws really worked to reduce injunes and deaths
existing laws Untortunately, some of these fail to Unfortunately, this public perception is difficult to
take into account the fairly large body of evi- achieve and maintain it is estimated that there is
dence now available about the effectiveness of
dnnking-driving laws

There are three aspects of drunk-driving laws
that influence their effectiveness

1 the amount and type of entorcement,


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