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On July 17th, 2003 at 1 a.m. while working a vehicle accident, I was struck by a drunk driver. I lost everything I had. My wife left, as 1 year of watching me have seizures and not get better was too much for her. More

Drunk Driving News

Drunk Driving Fatalities Drop to Lowest Rate since 1950

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that U.S. fatalities due to drunk driving fell to a record low number in 2009, declining by 7.4% from 2008, with a 19% decrease since 2000. This represents the lowest number since 1950. More

Drug and Alcohol Courts: An Effective Alternative to Jail

Drug courts were developed in the 1980's in an effort to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and to reduce the criminal activity that typically accompanies these behaviors. More

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Hold Drunk Drivers Responsible

The push to require ignition interlock devices on vehicles of convicted drunk drivers

More and more states are enacting legislation that will utilize technology in the effort to make the roads safer by requiring the installation of ignition interlock devices on vehicles of first time drunk driving offenders. Currently, there are 12 states that have enacted law requiring the interlock devices for DUI and DWI drivers with a first conviction. The device requires the driver to blow into it to register their level of alcohol consumption before the engine will start up. Unfortunately, some probation departments do not follow up to make sure that convicted offenders actually install the devices – and this failure can put the departments at risk for liability where the probationer then later injures or kills someone while intoxicated.

The legislation is being supported by lawmakers and advocates who feel that the standard punishments of fines, jail time, license revoking, and other measures are ineffective. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the following facts support the need for and the effectiveness of the alcohol interlock device:

  • Studies show that ignition interlocks are an average of 64% effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses.
  • Research shows that those convicted of drunk driving for the first time have driven drunk more than 87 times before their first arrest.
  • Two-thirds of drunk driving offenders continue to drive even after their license is suspended.
  • Only one in ten convicted drunk drivers each year currently has an interlock device on their vehicle.
  • 65% of the public favors mandatory interlocks for first-time convicted offenders.
  • 85% of the public favors mandatory interlocks for repeated convicted offenders.
  • Offenders themselves believe interlocks are a fair and effective sanction:
  • 82% believe interlocks were very effective in preventing them from driving after drinking.
  • 68% believed interlocks were very successful in changing their drunk driving habits.
  • Thousands of lives could be saved if ignition interlocks were installed on convicted offenders’ vehicles.

As to be expected, this movement to increase the use of interlock devices is being criticized by organizations including the American Beverage Institute, among others. Their view is that drunk drivers will find a way to bypass this technology and that the devices are unreliable and give frequent false-positive readings, and therefore are useless for the purpose they are intended, although they do support the use of the interlock devices for hard-core DUI and DWI offenders. They claim that the facts stated above are not accurate, and that the push to legislate the devices for first-time convictions is just another step toward achieving anti-alcohol organizations’ ultimate goal of requiring the devices to be installed on all vehicles.

While clearly there needs to be a multi-pronged approach in the campaign to reduce drunk driving, the use of alcohol interlock devices for people who have proven to be willing to drive drunk is a strong step. This approach, combined with other measures including stiff penalties for DUI and DWI offenders will continue to decrease the threat of drunk driving on the nation’s roadways.

From data provided by MADD, the following states currently require the device for first time convictions: Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, and New York. States with pending legislation to enact the same type of law: Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida.

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