Federal Agency Calls on States to Require Ignition Interlocks for DUI Offenders

25 January 2013

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 January 25, 2013
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ignition interlockThe National Transportation Safety Board is proposing new legislation that would require all individuals who received a DUI to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

The proposal is based on a study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that drunk driving is the number one reason for wrong-way driving accidents. These types of accidents commonly result in fatalities and serious injuries.

The study was based on empirical data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nine states’ data was used during the study, including California, Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Currently, 17 states require ignition interlock devices. These devices operate by prohibiting the engine of an automobile from starting until the driver breathes into the device. Once the device determines that the person’s blood alcohol content level is below legal limits, the vehicle turns on.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation is not binding, but it is being sent to the 33 states which do not currently impose the requirement of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. The previous recommendation from the board was to only install these devices for individuals who had been convicted more than one time or who had a BAC of greater than 0.15.

The NTSB investigates automotive accidents and is responsible for making recommendations and suggestions to other governmental agencies. Not everyone is supporting the recommendations by the NTSB. For example, chain restaurants and other proponents who are part of the American Beverage Institute are arguing that these devices should only be installed on the vehicles belonging to repeat offenders or those who have been convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.15 or higher.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends several other ways to prevent drunk driving accidents. Another suggestion to prevent drunk driving accidents is to use touch-based sensors in vehicles that detect alcohol in the driver’s system. Wrong-way accidents may be prevented by having better lighting, more signs, additional roadway markings and GPS systems that warn drivers that they are heading the wrong way.

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