As of January 1, 15 states now require ignition interlock devices to be installed onto any vehicle owned by a motorist with at least one drunk driving conviction. The growing trend among states is part of a nationwide push by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which is ramping up its efforts to force the adoption of laws that will reduce car accidents caused by drunk drivers.
At least 24 other states already require similar sobriety-check locks on the vehicles of repeat drunk driving offenders, or for offenders whose BAC while driving was found to be at .15 or more. Ohio law requires interlock installation for any driver who is convicted a second time of driving under the influence.
In an effort to reduce car accidents, the push is on nationally to drastically reduce the risk of drunk drivers taking to the streets and causing accidents and loss of life. All 50 states have taken some measures to keep drunk drivers off the roads, but some leave that decision up to the discretion of judges.
MADD is seeking tougher measures -- such as interlocks -- that forcibly prevent drivers from operating a motor vehicle. Since it launched its 50-state campaign, 13 states have adopted mandated ignition interlocks for first-time drunk drivers. A spokesperson for MADD noted that even when licenses are suspended, up to 75 percent of motorists ignore the punishment, thus rendering that deterrent less than effective.
Proponents of the devices say the measure can also help reduce lost time and money dealing with repeat drunk drivers -- the devices are reported to reduce re-arrests of convicted drunk drivers by up to 67 percent.
Source: MSNBC, "Curbing drunken drivers: Should ignition interlock be required on every car?" Jim Gold, Jan 5, 2012