How One Device is Preventing Drunk Driving

Ignition interlocks may be the key to prevent drunk driving.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), ignition interlocks may be the key to reducing drunk driving accidents. If you've never heard of the devices, they prevent drunk drivers from starting their vehicle if – after blowing into the device – their blood-alcohol content (BAC) is above a pre-set limit.

MADD's goal is for every state to require ignition interlocks for all first-time DUI offenders. According to a recent study conducted by the group, ignition interlocks have stopped 350,000 drunk driving attempts from December 2015 to December 2016 and an astonishing 2.3 million since 2006. In Pennsylvania alone, the device prevented 5,370 attempts by drunk drivers to start their vehicles over the course of 2016.

That’s not all the ignition interlocks have accomplished:

  • Laws requiring interlocks for all drunk driving offenders with a BAC of .08 or greater were associated with a 7 percent decrease in the rate of drunk driving fatal crashes
  • Ignition interlocks are 74 percent more effective in reducing repeat DUI offenses than license suspension alone for first-time offenders
  • Ignition interlocks are 70 percent more effective than license suspension alone in preventing repeat offenses for second-time offenders for the first year of use
  • DUI deaths decreased by 15 percent in states that enacted all-offender interlock laws

Beginning in August 2017, Pennsylvania law will require ignition interlocks for all first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of .10 or greater. Pennsylvania will join 12 other states that have mandatory ignition interlock laws for first-time offenders above a specified BAC level, while the District of Columbia and 28 other states require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders regardless of BAC. Currently, only repeat offenders in Pennsylvania are required to have an ignition interlock system.

Our law firm is dedicated to helping victims of drunk drivers, like our client Tara, whose life was turned upside-down after being struck head-on by a drunk driver traveling 65 mph. Tara's best friend, Tina, died instantly upon impact, while Tara was left with severe injuries that still affect her to this day. Now, Tara is involved with MADD to raise awareness of the risks and impact of drunk driving and to prevent death and injuries from impaired driving.

If you would like to join the effort to end drunk driving in our community, and support Tara and MADD's efforts, you can take part in the 3rd Annual Walk like MADD on Sunday, May 21. To learn more about this event supported by our law firm, you can visit their website.

McGinty, Emma E. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, "Ignition Interlock Laws: Effects on Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes, 1982–2013," January, 2017
California DMV, "Specific Deterrent Evaluation of the Ignition Interlock Pilot Program in California," June 2016
Kaufman, University of Pennsylvania, "Impact of State Ignition Interlock Laws on Alcohol Involved Crash Deaths in the United States," March 2016
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