Ignition interlocks prevent millions of drunken drives

Safety advocates say ignition interlocks have made roads safer and that California needs to make greater use of them.

A report recently released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) shows that ignition interlock devices have already helped prevent millions of impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel of their cars, according to PC Magazine. The report provides support for safety advocates in California who want the state to adopt stronger drunk driving laws, including a proposal to require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. In addition to the MADD report, other studies have shown that ignition interlocks have been highly effective at reducing repeat drunk driving rates and car accidents caused by impaired drivers.


The report claims that 1.77 million drives by impaired drivers have been prevented by ignition interlock devices across the United States since states began mandating their use for DUI offenders. Ignition interlocks are a breathalyzer-type device that requires a driver to blow into it before the car's ignition will start. If the driver registers a blood-alcohol content reading above a preset limit, then the device will prevent the car from starting.

The devices have become increasingly popular in recent years among lawmakers and those working to prevent drunk driving accidents. Advocates of stronger ignition interlock devices point out that they are far more effective at getting drunk drivers off the road than license suspensions alone are. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, says that the devices have led to a 67 percent reduction in repeat drunk driving offenses.


The remarkable success of ignition interlock devices is leading some to wonder why California has not adopted laws mandating the device's use in all drunk driving convictions. Indeed, while 25 states currently order ignition interlocks be installed for all drunk driving convictions, MADD notes that California is currently not one of them.

A bill now being considered by state lawmakers, however, could change that. As KBAK/KBFX News reports, Senate Bill 1046 would make ignition interlocks mandatory for all drunk driving convictions in the state. Los Angeles, Tulare, Sacramento and Alameda Counties, meanwhile, are already participating in a pilot program to test the effectiveness of expanded use of ignition interlock devices.


It will likely take months if not longer, however, before significantly more drunk drivers are ordered to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles in California. Meanwhile, countless innocent lives will continue to be impacted by the selfish and reckless behavior of impaired drivers throughout the state. For anybody who has been hurt in a crash that may have been caused by an impaired driver, it is important that they contact a personal injury attorney immediately. In addition to compensation for injuries and property damage, victims of drunk drivers may also be able to pursue additional compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured as a result of their crash. An experienced attorney can help victims understand what compensation they may be able to pursue.