In 2015, 10,265 people were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

General deterrence law enforcement efforts, like sobriety checkpoints and other special police activities, are designed to let the public know that if they drive drunk, they will be arrested and face consequences. Enforcement, coupled with paid advertising in order to publicize police activity, is effective in the fight to deter would-be drunk drivers.

While MADD in nearly four decades of existence has been instrumental in toughening DUI laws and educating people about the dangers of driving while impaired, the organization decided 10 years ago it could do more.

In 2006, MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which focuses on encouraging more widespread use of high-visibility law enforcement as well as technology such as ignition interlocks.

One of the most effective ways to prevent a convicted drunk driver from re-offending is to make sure that he or she will not be able to start his or her vehicle while impaired. The ignition interlock device does just that.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA Inc. has released an extensive report showing use of ignition interlocks in the United States increased by nearly 10,000 in one year. The report concluded that 337,030 ignition interlocks were in use as of Aug. 31, 2016, up from 328,743 the previous year.

The second annual report is the result of research into all 50 states’ arrest and conviction records, ignition interlock laws and interlock usage by category, such as first offender and repeat offender. Researchers compared the number of offenders who should be using an interlock with the number actually installed, providing insight into whether state drunk driving laws are being followed as intended.

MADD recommends the mandatory installation of ignition interlocks in every state for every convicted drunk-driving offender. Interlocks must be installed for a minimum of six months for first-time convicted offenders, and a minimum of one year for repeat offenders.

The first state ignition interlock pilot program began in California in 1986. When MADD launched the campaign in 2006, there were only 100,000 interlocks installed in the United States.

Twenty-nine states plus Washington, D.C., require or highly incentivize the use of an ignition interlock for every convicted offender.

Oklahoma became the 29th state in early June when Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill requiring all first-time drunk-driving offenders to install an ignition interlock on their vehicles as a condition of driving after a drunk-driving offense.

Oklahoma became the 29th state considered “all-offender” by MADD because it requires drunk-driving offenders to use an ignition interlock in order to drive. Previously, Oklahoma required ignition interlocks for first offenders with a .15 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and repeat offenders. The new law expands that requirement to all offenders with a .08 BAC and above.

South Carolina law requires ignition interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater and for all repeat offenders. MADD will continue to press the state to make changes similar to Oklahoma.

In a state with the country’s deadliest highways, there is reason to seriously consider the change implemented elsewhere.

MADD’s numbers make a strong case, with a March report showing that across the nation, ignition interlocks have stopped 2.3 million drunk-driving attempts from 2006 to 2016.


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