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Update on ignition interlocks: Ambitious House bill emerges

We reported recently on a strong push by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other traffic safety organizations to implement ignition interlock laws nationally that would apply to even first-time DUI offenders (please see our January 17 blog post). MADD officials say that the interlocks are strong and proven tools that help cut back appreciably on car accidents involving drunk drivers.

As we noted, Ohio is not among the 15 states with legislation mandating that the devices be installed on the vehicles of first offenders. Ohio law provides, rather (and has since September 2008), that interlocks be installed following a second DUI conviction.

That stance, which is reiterated in several other states as well, is about to come under increased and growing pressure, given the sudden emergence of interlocks as a congressional focus of interest on Capitol Hill. A new bill that would require all convicted drunk drivers in every state to install an interlock was just introduced in the House of Representatives, with similar legislation expected to emerge soon in the Senate.

The sought mandate is part of a much larger and comprehensive transportation bill sponsored by Republicans. The legislation is a $260-billion measure that calls for a number of transportation-related changes and improvements over the next five years.

A catalyst for rallying support in states like Ohio comes from the government's promise to provide federal funding to the states for various transportation projects.

It is far too early to predict how the new legislative attempts will play out. Disagreements are already emerging along party lines as to how the various highway projects sought to be pursued will be funded.

The House bill was introduced last Tuesday.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Drunk drivers: Congress gets behind breath-test ignition devices" Jan. 31, 2012

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