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Sen. Bill Dodd (copy)

State Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa)

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to double the funding for the state’s Designated Driver Program and expand public education about the dangers of drunken-driving.

“In California, it is critical that we stop people from getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs,” Sen. Dodd said. “This new law will help make our roadways safer by providing essential information to everyone on the perils of drunken driving.”

Brown announced the signing of Senate Bill 973 on Saturday. The new law doubles the amount of funding available for the Designated Driver program, administered by the California Highway Patrol, by increasing the annual assessment on alcohol licenses from $5 to $10. The money will allow the CHP step up public outreach through social media and to target high-impact locations. It passed both houses of the Legislature with overwhelming support.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, more than 125,000 people were arrested for drunken-driving in California in 2016 with 35,212 alcohol-related crashes causing 13,979 injuries. The same year, drunken-driving crashes killed 1,059 people statewide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Established in 1990, the Designated Driver Program is funded by the surcharge paid by alcohol licensees, not taxpayers. The program develops and implements new strategies and technologies to combat the problem of driving under the influence.

SB 973 is backed by AAA Northern California, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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City Editor

Kevin has been city editor since September 2010. He joined the Register in 1973 as a reporter. He covered Napa City Hall and assorted other beats over the years. Kevin has been writing his Napa Journal column on Sundays since 1989.