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Drunk Driving Deaths Down in Nevada in 2015

Drunk-driving deaths are down in Nevada in 2015. Advocates encourage safe driving this New Year's Eve. (Idless/iStock)
Drunk-driving deaths are down in Nevada in 2015. Advocates encourage safe driving this New Year's Eve. (Idless/iStock)
December 31, 2015

LAS VEGAS - Nevada is making serious progress against drunk driving, the latest statistics from the state show, with almost 25 percent fewer deaths in 2015 compared with 2014.

As of Monday, 61 people had died in alcohol-related crashes in Nevada, 20 fewer than the year before as of that same date. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, drunk-driving deaths in Nevada plunged more than 40 percent between 2004 and 2013.

Kathleen Bienenstein, program coordinator for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said she thinks the advent of ride-sharing services will drive the numbers down even further in the future.

"When a person is drinking, they call a cab," she said. "They get impatient, and they say to heck with it and get in their car and go. But with Uber and Lyft, you know it's a five-minute deal. So they don't have time to change their mind or give up."

Anti-drunk-driving advocates say any death is one too many, so they would like to see the penalties increased for impaired driving. Right now, a first offense in Nevada is more lenient than in other states - sometimes resulting in a misdemeanor charge, and as little as a $400 fine, two days in jail and/or a 30-day suspension of your license.

Bienenstein said she wants a law requiring an ignition interlock device to be installed following the first conviction.

"Statute here in Nevada does allow for a judge's discretion but it's very rarely used," she said. "I have not in five years heard of an instance in Southern Nevada where a judge has required it for a first-time offender."

Bienenstein said she's had no luck getting state legislators to introduce a bill on ignition interlock devices, but added that she will try again in the next legislative session in 2017.

Statistics are online at zerofatalitiesnv.com.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV