The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 17,013 alcohol-related fatalities were recorded during 2003, down by 511, or 3 percent, from 17,524 in 2002.
The decline was led by impaired driving reductions in 28 states, and was the first such drop since 1999.
"Tougher impaired driving laws, and the enforcement of those laws by tens of thousands of dedicated police officers across the country, are saving hundreds of lives nationwide," Jeffrey Runge, the agency's administrator said.
The agency said drunken driving-related fatalities dropped in 12 of 13 states that participated in an intense, multi-faceted NHTSA-funded campaign.
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