Stopping Drunk Drivers Before They Start
In many instances, technology is a major cause of auto accidents – particularly when drivers use their cell phones for calls or texting when behind the wheel. Now, however, two U.S. Senators have teamed up with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in an attempt to use new technology to avid tragedy and wrongful death instead.
Near the end of 2009, during the approach of the holiday season, which traditionally sees a spike in the number of DUI-related auto and motorcycle accidents, Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced a bill requiring the use of an “ignition interlock” for convicted drunk drivers.
The ignition interlock device, when installed in a car, prevents a would-be driver from starting the means unless they can pass a breathalyzer test. This device is gaining in popularity all across the country – ten states, including Washington where I practice law as a personal injury attorney in Seattle, already have laws in place requiring some degree of usage of the interlock by convicted DUI offenders who wish to excursion. In the case of Washington, a drunk driver who has had their license revoked can apply for a special IIL (Ignition Interlock License), which allows them to excursion any means that has the interlock installed.
It’s making already more of a splash internationally. In Sweden, you’ll find the interlock is standard equipment on buses and all service vehicles – in addition, all Volvos come equipped with an interlock. Legislation was also just passed in South Australia to require serious or repeat DUI offenders to have an interlock in their cars.
The reason the interlock is becoming such a center of attention? It works. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignition interlocks reduced re-arrest rates by an amazing 73 percent, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found wrongful deaths dropped a welcome 30 percent.
Who could argue with such a great solution to such a tremendous – and potentially lethal – problem?
Well, who else but the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which has worked against the interlock since it was first introduced. The ABI’s position is that the Senators’ new hypothesizedv bill is “the first step in a campaign to require interlock technology in all cars.”
Perhaps the only reply to that argument is, “…and your point is?” But Mothers Against Drunk Driving went a bit further with their response. “We will gladly stack up the credibility of MADD versus the credibility of these groups any day,” MADD President Chuck Hurley said. “clearly, they’re funded by the angry wing of the alcohol industry.”
The ignition interlock looks to be an amazing weapon in the current war against DUI-related auto accidents and wrongful deaths, a war that has seen much progress in recent years. Drunk driving auto accidents have declined in 40 states, in addition as the District of Columbia, and the interlock, should it gain extensive acceptance, will probably add much momentum to that welcome trend.