Distillers Praise Arkansas Legislators, Governor for Getting Tought on Underage Drinkers; New law will suspend minors’ driver’s licenses for buying or possessing alcohol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Distilled Spirits Council today praised the Arkansas legislature for passing and Governor Mike Huckabee for signing legislation that will suspend the driver’s license of individuals under the age of 21 who purchase or possess alcohol. “Despite significant progress over the past 20 years, underage drinking remains a complex problem that persists in communities across the nation,” said Dr. Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council. “Effective and enforced penalties, such as the driver’s license suspension for underage drinkers who purchase or possess beverage alcohol, are important tools to reducing underage drinking.” Sponsored by Representative Johnny Key and Senator Shawn Womack, Act 1535 (formerly HB 1768) suspends the driving privileges of individuals under the age of 21 who purchase or possess alcohol. Suspensions will range from 60 days to one year and the penalties will escalate with multiple offenses. In 2003, there were there were 44 alcohol-related traffic fatalities among people under the age of 21 in Arkansas, according to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Young people will think twice about drinking illegally if they know their license will be suspended,” said Cressy, a former college president pointing to studies that have shown the effectiveness of driver’s license suspension penalties in increasing compliance with State laws and in commanding attention to the consequences of violating these laws. Cressy stated that the distilled spirits industry has long history of working with communities to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. He cited as examples 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 reduce underage drinking and drunk driving. For more information, visit www.centurycouncil.org.