Injury Law Blog

Lawmakers considering ignition interlock mandate

Family members who have lost loved ones in drunk driving accidents know that there is no amount of money that can ever make them whole again. Unfortunately, this is a reality suffered by the families of thousands of Americans each year.

In effort to help put a stop to repeat drunk drivers, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require all states to implement an ignition interlock law requiring all DUI/DWI offenders to install the devices in their vehicles for at least six months.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlock devices are the most effective way to prevent drunk drivers from reoffending. The devices require drivers to pass a breath test before the ignition will start. If alcohol is detected on the breath, the ignition will remain disabled.

MADD supports the new bill and said that it is “the next step in saving lives due to drunk driving,” which reportedly is responsible for one third of highway deaths in the United States.

Currently, all 50 states including California already require some type of ignition interlock use for convicted drunk drivers, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports. In California, a judge may require a convicted drunk driver to install the device even on a first offense for up to three years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted research on ignition interlock devices and found that they are much more effective than license suspensions at preventing re-offenses.

The CDC found that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers still drive with a suspended license, while ignition interlock devices reduce recidivism by 67 percent.

Another way to hold drunk drivers responsible for the damage that they have caused is through civil lawsuits. In some cases, punitive damages can be pursued, which punish the drunk driver for his or her criminal behavior.

Of course, no damage award can ever take away the pain of losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident, but it can give the family a sense that justice was served.

Source: Forbes, “New Ignition Interlock Legislation Aims to Save Thousands From Drunk Driving Deaths,” Tanya Mohn, July 7, 2014