The head of the Iowa State Patrol says he’s proud of the high level of seat belt usage and the low number of drinking-related fatalities in the state — but Colonel Robert Garrison says there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Garrison says Iowa ranks fourth in the nation in seat belt compliance and sixth in alcohol-related fatals, but there are still over 400 people that die on Iowa’s highways. Garrison says the states ahead of Iowa in seat belt compliance are closer to perfect than Iowa drivers. He says there are states like Washington and Oregon that’re up around 90-percent compliance. He says there are people who don’t want to wear their seatbelts and you have to give them a ticket to get them to wear them. Garrison says the new point-oh-eight drunk driving standard is an important change. He says the law does not mean that more arrests have been made, but he says it’s given law enforcement another means to enforce the rules for someone that’s too intoxicated to drive. In order to reach point-oh-eight, a 170-pound male would have to consume four to five drinks in one hour on an empty stomach, and a 130-pound female would have to consume three to four drinks. Passage of the new .08 law means that Iowa is now eligible for 45-point-six million dollars in federal road money between 2004 and 2007.
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