Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories



Alabama – February 21, 2003



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With support from the OJJDP

Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative, community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to

change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


Alabama Gets Graduated Driver?s Licensing

 It took 3 years, but Alabama?s Legislature recently passed a

graduated licensing law for young drivers. The law, which took effect in

October of 2002, is expected to yield a significant decrease in traffic

deaths among youth.

?Graduated Driver?s Licensing? (GDL) policies provide young drivers with

controlled exposure to increasingly challenging driving scenarios. This

can include a minimum amount of daylight practice before night driving is

permitted, and it may also include severe sanctions in case of drunken

driving. A number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of

graduated licensing in reducing youth traffic fatalities, both

alcohol-involved and non-alcohol-involved.

The effort to pass graduated licensing in Alabama began with State

Representative John Hawkins. Although his initial bill did not pass, the

Governor?s Advisory Board soon took up the cause. Comprising

representatives from more than 30 organizations?such as MADD, the

Sheriff?s Association, and the Police Chief?s Association?the Board took a

leadership role in promoting the proposed legislation. The Board was quick

to recognize the benefit of GDL, and began holding a series of briefings

for legislators, law enforcement, and other concerned persons around the


 Students from MADD?s Youth In Action also took part in the briefings. They

researched GDL laws in other States and youth traffic fatalities in

Alabama, and then presented their results at the regional briefings. One

student, Lee Barkley, was too young to drive at the time, so she was in

effect making her own license harder to obtain. Nonetheless, says Lee, GDL

is ?a great idea, because most teenagers do not have a lot of practice;

?practice? is the key word.?

After two more attempts to pass a bill, the

Alabama legislature finally passed a graduated licensing law to become

effective October 2002. The law restricts night driving, requires a set

period of practice time, and prevents young drivers from engaging in risky

behaviors such as carrying too many passengers.

State officials are already looking forward to

the benefits from GDL. Milton Saffold, Department of Economic and

Community Affairs, projects the law will reduce underage crashes by 30

percent (based on results from the neighboring States of Florida and

Georgia), and Alabama is now eligible for NHTSA incentive funds. However,

the State isn?t stopping there; they are following up with a public

awareness campaign to ensure that the law is understood. Says Saffold,

?Now we?re doing public education, to tell people what the law is going to


For more information, contact Milton Saffold, Alabama Department

of Economic and Community Affairs, at 334-242-5812, or

[email protected]



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