WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Distilled Spirits Council sent a letter today to Representative Jeff Fitzgerald, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on State Affairs, in support of legislation that would increase fines for those under the legal drinking age who drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. “Despite significant progress over the past 20 years, underage drinking remains a complex problem that persists in communities across the nation,” said Dale Szyndrowski, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade association representing the distilled spirits industry. “A combination of effective penalties, such as increased fees and administrative license suspension, and consistent, comprehensive enforcement of those penalties will enhance each community’s efforts to reduce illegal underage drinking.” Assembly Bill 450 increases the fine from $10 to $200 for individuals under the legal drinking age who drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.0. An individual will be fined $400 if a minor under the age of 16 is present in the motor vehicle at the time of the offense. Additionally, the bill requires the state’s Department of Transportation to assess four demerit points for each violation. As is the case under current law, individuals found in violation will be subject to a three month license suspension. Violators who have a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle will be subject to a six month license suspension. Szyndrowski stated that the distilled spirits industry has a long history of working with communities to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. He cited as examples funding the development of the breathalyzer in the 1940’s, co-sponsoring the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” public service campaign in the 1980’s, and the work of The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers, which has programs available for communities and parents to fight underage drinking and drunk driving. For more information regarding The Century Council’s programs, visit www.centurycouncil.org.