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Ignition Interlocks for First Time DUI Offenders is a Heated Topic

There are people on both sides of the argument regarding the topic of ignition interlock systems.  Many states, including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska and Washington, have already enacted laws requiring first time DUI offenders to install ignition locks into their vehicles.  Other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, have also proposed laws that would mandate ignition locks for first time offenders with low BAC (blood alcohol concentration).  The question being asked by many Americans is – “are these laws fair?”

An ignition interlock system is a “mechanism similar to a breathalyzer which is installed in a vehicle's dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must breathe into the device. If the analyzed result is higher than a programmed blood alcohol concentration, commonly .02% or .04%, the vehicle will not start.”

Various states already have laws in place that require the installation of ignition interlock systems in the vehicles of repeat DUI offenders.  These new laws would place the same requirement on drivers who have only one DUI offense.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has initiated a nationwide campaign to mandate ignition locks for anyone convicted of drunk driving.  MADD claims that these ignition locks would save thousands of lives.  However, critics have said that interlocks could lead to measures that place too many restrictions on alcohol policies. 

Those who have advocated the ignition interlock laws have cited a 2008 study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation that found interlock devices in New Mexico helped reduce the number of repeat offenses by about two-thirds.  Opponents to these laws believe that other factors, such as education programs, can also be attributed to this decline.

Others have argued that ignition locks do not solve the problem of drunk driving.  In fact, former MADD president Katherine Prescott said that the drunk driving problem has been reduced to “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal.”  Treating first time DUI offenders the same as repeat offenders does not necessarily solve the problem of drunk driving accidents. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has collected data that shows that the majority of drunk drivers in fatal accidents had an average BAC of .18 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit.  Some states have proposed bills that would require the installation of ignition interlocks for drivers with a BAC below .15 percent.

According to managing director Sarah Longwell with the American Beverage Institute, the ignition interlock laws being pushed by MADD do not allow judges to distinguish between drivers who have had a few drinks and barely go over the .08 blood-alcohol legal limit and those who are way over.  She was quoted as saying, “we foresee a country in which you’re no longer able to have a glass of wine, drink a beer at a ball game or enjoy a champagne toast at a wedding.  There will be a de facto zero tolerance policy imposed on people in their cars.”

If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney or DWI lawyer who can help you.  Call (888) DWI-ANSWER (394-2679) or (888) DUI-ANSWER (384-2679) today.