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MADD Pushes Uniform Drunk Driving Rules

Roughly half of U.S. States have rules requiring all drivers convicted of DUI to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Even first time offenders must use interlock devices in 24 states, with California testing such a requirement as part of a pilot program. The devices require drivers to blow into a device that can detect alcohol. If the driver has alcohol in his or her system, the ignition is disabled and the vehicle will not start, potentially preventing a deadly accident.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has partnered with legislators to draft a new law that would strongly encourage all 50 states to adopt ignition interlock rules for at least the first 6 months following a conviction. The legislation, known as Alisa's Law, would tie the passage of interlock legislation to federal transportation funding. States would have to change their laws by October 1, 2014 or face reduced funding.

MADD and other safety groups believe that the current penalties associated with first-time DUI offenders are not sufficient. Suspending the license of a driver following a DUI arrest has proven ineffective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive even while the license suspension is in place. Repeat offenses are common. Studies conducted by MADD suggest that the people convicted of drunk driving have driven drunk and average of 87 times prior to being caught.

Drinking and driving is among the most common causes of traffic deaths in the U.S. More than 10,000 deaths are attributed to drunk drivers every year. Ignition interlock devices are one method used to combat that problem. If they were required everywhere in the nation, hundreds or even thousands of lives could be saved.

Source: Forbes, "New Ignition Interlock Legislation Aims To Save Thousands From Drunk Driving Deaths," by Tanya Mohn, 7 July 2014

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