NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Face Loss Of Federal Highway Money

September 7, 2000

What the federal government giveth, it can also taketh away. That is a lesson states which have not tightened their drunken-driving laws are about to learn.

In 1998, Congress required states to ban motorists from having open bottles and cans of alcohol in their autos and to impose tougher penalties on people convicted of multiple drunken-driving violations.

  • Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia stand to lose federal highway construction dollars if they don't toughen their laws by October 1.
  • States could lose 1.5 percent of funds for not having open-container laws and another 1.5 percent for failing to adopt repeat offender laws.
  • While these proportions don't appear to be high, they translate into millions of lost construction dollars -- with Texas, for example, scheduled to lose $24,091,656 twice over for failing to adopt the two types of laws.
  • It's too late for most of the states not in compliance to meet the October 1 deadline, since their legislatures have adjourned for the year.

Congress is also debating imposing sanctions on states that don't lower the blood-alcohol level to .08 percent.

Source: Jesse Halladay, "Loose Laws on DWIs Will Cost States," USA Today, September 7, 2000.


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