Should Every Car Have An Alcohol Ignition Interlock?

This chart from Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows the status of ignition interlock laws across the country. Legislation is pending for interlock mandates for even first-time offenders in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

As more and more states adopt alcohol ignition interlock devices for those motorists who are caught with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit, some people are wondering why ignition interlocks are not a standard piece of equipment in all vehicles. Connecticut along with 14 other states recently adopted the policy on January 1, 2012, a step that was advocated by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

This law applies to drivers caught with blood-alcohol content above the legal limit, even for first-time offenders. At least 24 other states mandate Breathalyzer-like locks for so-called hard-core drunken drivers, repeat offenders, or those caught with alcohol levels of .15 or more.

In 2006, MADD launched its 50-state effort to eliminate drunk driving when only New Mexico mandated ignition interlocks for even first-time drunken drivers, said Frank Harris, MADD’s manager of state legislative affairs. In the past MADD’s focus was more geared toward hard-core drunken drivers and suspending their licenses, a punishment ignored by up to 75 percent of convicted motorists, he said.

“It makes me sick to my stomach to see people drive drunk with a BAC of .08 to .14 and not be categorized as hardcore drunk driving offenders,” Harris said.

“DUI or DWI laws are very complicated,” Harris said. “The ignition interlock is just part of the approach to assure the offender must prove sobriety and assure swift punishment,” he said.

There is no question that ignition interlocks are a great policy and will certainly save the lives of countless people. People who are convicted of DUI’s are much more likely to get behind the wheel intoxicated again, such devices make that much more difficult.

What are your thoughts: should every car have an alcohol ignition interlock?

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