Over the years, law enforcement officials have taken a proactive stance in preventing drunk driving. These efforts are seen in the form of paid advertising and sobriety checkpoints, each with the intent of publicizing police activity in the hopes of deterring would-be DUI drivers. Unfortunately, police efforts have not defeated the problem, and more than 10,000 people are killed each year in accidents caused by drunk drivers.
All states define DUI as driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08%, but penalties vary a great deal from state to state. In addition, all states have an ignition interlock law of some type, enabling judges to require some or all convicted drunk drivers to install interlock systems in their cars. Only twenty states, however, have mandatory ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders.
In July 2014, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) submitted a bill, known as “Alisa’s Law,” to the House of Representatives. The law would mandate all states to require ignition interlock systems for all convicted drunk drivers, including first time offenders, for a minimum of six months.
How an Ignition Interlock System Works
An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is more or less a breathalyzer that is hard-wired to the vehicle’s ignition system. The driver is required to breathe into the device’s mouthpiece before starting the vehicle, at which time a fuel cell inside the device analyzes the alcohol content of the air sample. If the BAC is above the device’s programmed limit, the engine will not start. The IID records all events, making attempts to thwart the system a bad idea, and penalties for attempting to cheat the device carry severe penalties.
In addition to the initial BAC test, many devices require a “rolling retest,” before which the driver is allowed time to safely pull over to the side of the road. If a rolling retest is failed, the failure is recorded in the IID; however, the engine is not shut off, as that could cause a dangerous situation.
Ignition Interlock Systems Saving Lives
A two-year study was done by the Massachusetts DMV in which hundreds of convicted DUI drivers were required to use the IID. Only thirty of those drivers were charged with a subsequent DUI, making the rate of recurring DUIs less than 2%. Many Americans share the viewpoint of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — that every step taken to reduce the number of DUI drivers is a life saved.
What to do if Injured by a Drunk Driver
In spite of efforts to eliminate DUI driving throughout the nation, drivers are still getting behind the wheel, causing injuries and deaths. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, seek medical attention immediately. A personal injury attorney can be a great help to you in this time of crisis, taking care of all the details, from obtaining witness statements, dealing with insurance companies, and making sure you know your rights. Contact Van Sant Law, LLC today for a free case evaluation, by calling (404) 991-5950, or via their web form.