Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have recently partnered together to propose new legislation that would require all first-time convicted drunk driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices into their automobiles throughout the nation.
Ignition interlocks are alcohol breath testing devices that are installed into automobiles to prevent drunk driving. The driver must blow into the device and pass the breath test before starting his or her automobile. Additionally, drivers must continue to periodically blow into the device while their automobile is in operation to ensure sobriety.
Currently, ignition interlock devices are used in all 50 states including the District of Columbia. 20 states require or highly incentivize all convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices. 15 states such as Washington, Virginia, and New Mexico have mandatory ignition interlock device installation provisions for all convicted drunk driving offenders. The NHTSA and MADD want all states to adopt similar legislation. Note, the NHTSA cannot pass legislation, but only suggest for states to adopt legislation. State lawmakers have the final decision regarding the adoption of the proposed legislation.
Proponents in support of the legislation believe that requiring convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices will decrease future drunk driving re-occurrence and reduce traffic accidents and/or fatalities associated with drinking and driving. Recent studies have shown that ignition interlocks are about 75% effective in reducing the reoccurrence of drunk driving.
Nevertheless, though there are several studies that illustrate the effectiveness of ignition interlock devices, mandating all convicted drunk driving offenders to install the device is somewhat overreaching. A first time drunk driving offender with a low blood alcohol content should not be required to have an ignition device interlock installed as a punishment. However, in Michigan, convicted “super drunk” drivers and subsequent offense drunk drivers should be required to install ignition interlock devices in their automobile. In these situations, the crime fits the punishment.
Though MADD and the NHTSA continue to propose legislation to reduce drunk driving offenses from reoccurring, they have done little to increase the criminal penalties and sentencing for distracted drivers across the nation. Recent studies have shown that distracted driving (e.g. -texting or talking on a cell phone while driving) is a bigger culprit in fatal traffic accident than most common low BAC drunk driving accidents.
I will be providing future articles that follow up on this proposed legislation. If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Washtenaw County, Michigan, contact Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney Stacey Washington to help you navigate through this difficult situation in your life. Stacey Washington has helped a number of clients mitigate any long-term consequences of drunk driving.