An Omnibus bill passed by Congress today includes important trade practice enforcement and anti-drug-impaired driving funding supported by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).
The specific provisions represent $111 million for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), under the Department of the Treasury, the primary alcohol industry regulator, as well as $5 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to expand the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) programs. This bill funds federal operations through September 30.
Funding for TTB includes $5 million marked for enforcement of industry trade practice violations— the second year in a row for agency funding and enforcement at those levels. These recent funding increases enabled the agency to launch 15 major investigations into potential trade practices violations including 2 large "pay to play" cases.
"The U.S. beverage alcohol market, with wholesalers at the center, offers consumers the widest variety of products available anywhere in the world in a manner that guarantees product integrity and promotes social responsibility. One of the key reasons the American market is so diverse, safe and competitive is because of the longstanding and effective relationship between suppliers, wholesalers, retailers and TTB," WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said.
"TTB oversight and trade practices enforcement are important bulwarks of our industry. Wholesalers as well as their supplier and retailer partners share a commitment to strict compliance with alcohol regulations at the state and federal levels," Wolf added.
The Omnibus bill also includes funding for two successful NHTSA law enforcement training programs targeting drug-impaired driving. Both the comprehensive DRE and ARIDE training programs prepare law enforcement officers with advanced instruction in detecting and assessing drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. To-date, more than 7,500 officers have been DRE certified and more than 46,000 have completed the ARIDE certification.
"The beverage alcohol industry has long spoken with a united voice and worked to support law enforcement and regulatory efforts to fight underage drinking and to advocate for strict anti-impaired driving enforcement. As more and more states legalize marijuana, it is essential that law enforcement officials be armed with the latest and best tools and training to ensure that the success they have found with anti-DUI enforcement expands to this growing category of drugged-driving. These federal programs will help support key state and local law enforcement efforts to expand enforcement," Wolf added.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.
Visit www.wswa.org to learn more.