A federal report says there were 155 drunk driving deaths last year in Iowa, well below the national numbers, but a statewide rise of more than 11-percent from the previous year. Bill Shackelford, president of the Polk County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the influx of new Iowa residents from other countries could be partly to blame for the higher number of alcohol-related fatalities. We have heavy immigration in Iowa and “those people tend to be a little bit unfamiliar with our laws,” Shackleford says, ending up both as drunk drivers and as victims. He says Iowa’s youngest drivers are also dying behind the wheel.There’s an increase in binge drinking, particularly among college-age people. Shackleford also attributes some of the eleven-point-five percent increase in drunk driving deaths between 2000 and 2001 to the state’s poor financial situation. Shackleford says he’s disappointed but not discouraged by the report as there’s significant progress shown in the report, as drunk driving fatalities statewide in 1990 numbered 210. He says the numbers will drop further next year if Iowa legislators pass a law lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit at which a driver is considered drunk from the current point-one to point-oh-eight.
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