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Ignition Interlocks Decrease Drunk Driving Accidents

Jason Reese

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that in the United States, there are almost 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each and ever day. Fewer than 4,000 will be caught. Knowing that data point alone, it is no great surprise that 28 people die in drunk driving accidents every day; in fact, it is surprising the number isn’t higher.

One third of convicted drunk drivers have been previously convicted on drunk driving charges, and 50-75% of drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. It’s clear we need ways of addressing this ongoing problem, but how? Ignition interlock devices may well be the answer, but their use also raises some concerns.

Ignition interlock devices (IID), also known as breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) are basically breathalyzers that can be attached to cars in order to prevent convicted drunk drivers from driving. The devices require the driver to test their blood alcohol levels and will prevent the car from starting if the person’s blood alcohol is too high. Many states have begun to use IIDs in a variety of ways and situations, and for good reason. Some of the states that require all offenders to use an interlock device report 30% decreases in drunk driving fatalities. Other research shows IID installation capable of decreasing repeat offenders by nearly 70%.

They are not without their downsides however. First of all, there is some cost to the convicted driver, nearly $650 for six months use of an IID. Problematically, this has led to too many offenders obtaining a restricted license but then never going to have the device installed. In addition, the American Probation and Parole Association found that mandatory sentencing involving IIDs could seriously drive up probation caseloads, as well add $7.6 million in costs. Twenty-one states have mandatory IID provisions for all offenses.

In the past, Indiana has largely left decisions about the utilization of ignition interlock devices up to judges with no statewide program in place. Effective as of January 1, 2015, HB 1279 gives oversight of the interlock vendors to the Department of Toxicity. It also creates a special driving permit for those convicted drunk drivers who are ordered to use an IID for at least six months. Instead of waiting for clearance to do so, offenders can apply immediately after conviction for the special driving permit. The bill does also allow judges to base removal of the device on the offender’s compliance, i.e. after he or she has been able to “prove” their capacity for sober driving.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have the experience you to assist you secure compensation and assist you with your recovery. In the case of wrongful death, we understand there is no way of replacing the loved one you have lost. Please call our offices today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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