Tags: DUI | car | interlocks

Safety Group Pushes Switch-Off Locks for Cars of DUI Offenders

By Tim Plaehn   |   Tuesday, 06 Mar 2012 05:13 PM

More states should require auto ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunken driving to reduce the number of car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute studied driver and accident records from Washington state for time periods before and after the state passed a mandatory ignition interlock requirement for DUI convicted drivers, USA Today reports.

"An interlock law that covers all people convicted of DUI reduces recidivism by 11 to 12 percent,” Anne McCartt, the institute’s vice president for research and chief author of the study, told the national newspaper.

An ignition interlock requires a driver to blow into a breathalyzer before trying to start his car. The vehicle will not start if the driver blows alcohol above a preset level. The typical requirement is for an interlock device be installed for six months after a DUI conviction.

Fifteen states mandate such interlocks upon DUI convictions, and seven more are considering similar laws, according to USA Today.

Whether across-the-board adoption of the devices is a good solution remains open to debate.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers supports interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.

But Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, said, "As long as the interlock is in the car, there's a reduction in recidivism . . . As soon as you take it off, recidivism goes back up."

The American Probation and Parole Association contends that requiring interlocks is "an unnecessary and costly response."

Instead of mandatory use of interlocks, some believe the use should be at the discretion of judges, on a case-by-case basis.

Deaths attributed to drunk driving declined sharply in the 1980s and 1990s, but at a slower pace in recent years. For 2010, the 10,228 deaths from drunken driving were 4.9 percent lower than in 2009.

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