ABL Updates: March / April 2020
By John Bodnovich, ABL Executive Director
IMPAIRED DRIVING FATALITIES DOWN IN 2018; NEW LEGISLATION IN CONGRESS
Alcohol impaired driving fatalities decreased by 3.6% (397 fewer deaths than in 2017), accounting for 29% of 2018 over-all fatalities, according to crash fatality data released on Oct. 22 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NGTSA).
This 29% of overall fatalities is the lowest percentage since 1982, when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data.
Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act of 2019 or Senate Bill (SB) 2604. The bill would extend the 2015 ROADS SAFE Act’s dedicated funding to anti-drunk driving technology research-specifically the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).
There is concern that the RIDE Act could redirect funding from DADSS to another, more invasive anti-drunk driving technology to be mandated in all new cars with no requirement that it be set at 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). ABL is working with industry partners and other stakeholders to support sensible solutions for drunk and drugged driving problems, not one-size-fits-all mandates.
MADD GETTING MAD AGAIN
On Jan. 29, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released its report card for the 50 states (and D.C.) on their laws to reduce drunk driving. For 2019, MADD awarded an average national rating of 3.16 out of 5 stars, which is a slight increase from 2.96 in 2018.
Wisconsin received 2 out of 5 stars, with the report stating, “Lawmakers should be applauded for taking action in 2019 to increase incarceration for those who kill someone in a drunk driving crash. Lawmakers need to do much more, including legalizing sobriety checkpoints, requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and making any drunk driving offense a criminal misdemeanor like in 49 other states.”
Only one state – Arizona – received 5 out of 5 stars in 2019. Eight other states performed well above the national average in 2019: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, which each received a rating of 4.5. Montana received the lowest rating, with just a half-star. Michigan, South Dakota and Wyoming also received ratings of 1.5 stars or lower.
HAWAII AND NEW YORK JOIN VERMONT WITH 0.05% BAC LEGISLATION
Bills were introduced in New York and Hawaii that would lower each state’s legal limit for drunk driving from 0.08% to 0.05% BAC. In Hawaii, SB 2234 passed unanimously out of the committee. The bill also has a provision that would allow for a driver to be charged if that individual “is under the influence of any drug that impairs the person’s ability to operate the vehicle in a careful or prudent manner.
Rep. Felix Ortiz (D-NY) and Sen. John Liu (D-NY) want New York to lower the blood alcohol limit to 0.05% BAC. Assembly Bill (AB) 3208 and SB 5117 would lower “the blood alcohol concentration required for driving while intoxicated from 0.08 of one per centrum to 0.05 and for aggravated driving while intoxicated from 0.18 per centum to 0.12”.
Hawaii and New York join Vermont (SB291), which proposes lowering the BAC limit from 0.98% to 0.05%. Currently, Utah is the only state to have lowered its legal limit to 0.05% BAC.
ABL RAISES MUSIC LICENSING CONSENT DECREE AWARENESS
ABL staff, along with MIC Coalition counterparts, met with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill to raise awareness about the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division potentially moving to terminate, sunset or otherwise modifies the consent decrees for American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).
The ASCAP decree was last amended in 2001 and the BMI decree was last updated n 1994. However, both decrees were reviewed as recently as 2016 with the DOJ recommending no changes to them. During this review’s public comment period that ended in August 2019, nearly 900 comments were filed, including those from ABL and the MIC Coalition, and were overwhelmingly in support of not terminating or modifying the consent decrees.
ABL also reached out to the Trump administration, urging it to continue to promote marketplace competition and efficiency by preserving the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees in their current form. ABL and its coalition partners pointed out the enormous disruption of the marketplace with immediate broad-ranging adverse economic impacts that would occur should DOJ Antitrust Division decide to send, sunset or alter these consent decrees.
ABL ENGAGING IN TARIFF FIGHT
ABL participates in an industry coalition that opposes the tariffs being placed on imported alcohol products and the harm they are causing (and will continue to cause) the alcohol industry and consumers, and is lobbying to remove the tariffs. ABL met with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the impact of tariffs on the beverage alcohol industry.
Since Oct. 18, 2019, the U.S. has imposed a 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky; single malt Irish Whiskey from norther Ireland; liqueurs/cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spaid and the UK; and certain wines from France, Germany, Spain and the UK in connection with the World Trade Organization (WTO) case concerning aircraft subsidies. A proposed 100% tariff on French wine has been delayed until later this year.