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President Clinton Calls For Action To Reduce Drunk Driving

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The Briefing Room

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 3, 1998


The East Room

2:16 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Brenda, and I thank the othermembers of the Frazier family and the friends who are here in supportof you. Attorney General Reno, Senator Lautenberg, CongressmanLowey, Senator DeWine, Chief Flynn, thank you for your work and yoursupport. I thank Secretary Slater, Senator Dorgan, Senator Hollings,Senator Moseley-Braun, and Congressman McGovern for their presenceand their support. And I thank the Mothers Against Drunk Driving andStudents Against Destructive Decisions, the organizations for highwaysafety, all of you who are here in this noble endeavor.

Let me say that after hearing Brenda Frazier's storythere is very little that needs to be said. After seeing thephotograph of Ashley, there is very little that needs to be seen.Every parent in this country, every single one, who has ever put hisor her child in a car with someone else to go off to somedestination, has felt that sense of loss of control, that fear thatsomething might happen. Every parent of a teenager has spent somemoment on every weekend of the teenager's life, when the teenager wasout, wondering, hoping, and praying that nothing would ever happen.

To be reminded that these things do happen should be allthe reminder any member of Congress or any American ever needs.We've heard Brenda's story but there is hardly a family or communityin America that hasn't been touched by drunk driving. SenatorDorgan, we thank you especially for being here today because you lostyour mother, Dorothy, to a drunk driver. And we know that this is anational problem. Senator DeWine reminded us that in 1984 PresidentReagan signed into law the legislation to help make 21 the nationaldrinking age. Senator Lautenberg fought for that law in Congressbecause he knew that most of all our young people were threatened.

Eleven years later, I was proud to sign into law theZero Tolerance legislation that is helping to make it illegal for aperson under 21 to drive in any state after drinking any measurableamount of alcohol, no matter what the legal limit is. I say to you,if we win this battle and you want to come back for a lower limit,I'll be glad to stand here with you under those circumstances aswell.

The Safe and Sober Streets Act takes the next step tolower the legal limit to .08 in every state. When Congress passes itI'll sign it, and we'll work hard to pass it.

Today there is something else I'd like to do. I aminstructing Secretary Slater to report back to me in 45 days with aplan to make .08 the legal limit on all federal property, fromnational parks to military bases, so that the United States can leadthe way in making .08 the law of the land all over the land.

Lowering the legal limit to .08 will not prevent adultsfrom enjoying alcoholic beverages. But lowering the limit will makeresponsible Americans take even greater care when they drink alcoholin any amounts if they intend to drive.

To people who disregard the lethal threat they pose whenthey drink and drive, lowering the legal limit will send a strongmessage that our nation will not tolerate irresponsible acts thatendanger our children and our nation. We will, meanwhile, continueto do all we can to protect our young people from harm: fighting tokeep drugs and guns and alcohol out of our schools and our children'slives, fighting to shield them from the deadly harm of illegalexposure and use of tobacco.

With the steps we take today, we will build on thatprogress to help to ensure that the lives of Ashley Frazier, DorothyDorgan, and thousands of others cut short by drunk driving will nothave been lost in vain.

Now, in a few moments I want to ask Ashley's classmateswho are here, members of my Cabinet and the members of Congress whoare here to join me as I sign the Presidential Directive on federalproperty. But before I do, if you will indulge me: because of theaction of the United Nations Security Council with regard to Iraq andbecause this is the only chance I have to appear before the press andtherefore the American people today, I would like to make a briefstatement.

The unanimous vote of the United Nations SecurityCouncil last night sends a clear message. Iraq must fulfill withoutobstruction or delay its commitment to open all of the nation to theinternational weapons inspectors -- anyplace, anytime, without anyconditions, deadlines, or excuses.

All the members of the Security Council agree thatfailure to do so will result in severest consequences. Thegovernment of Iraq should be under no illusion. The meaning of"severest consequences" is clear. It provides authority to act ifIraq does not turn the commitment it has now made into compliance.

As the Secretary General told the Security Councilyesterday, Iraq's complete fulfillment of these obligations is theone and only aim of the agreement. No promise of peace and no policyof patience can be without its limits. Iraq's words must be matchedby deeds. The world is watching.

Now, I would like to ask Ashley's classmates, themembers of the Cabinet, and the members of Congress, as well as ChiefFlynn, would you all join us up here now, and Brenda, please.

Thank you. (Applause).

(The Executive Directive was signed.)

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