Levinson Law Group Applauds Big Decrease in Drunk Driving Fatalities
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) new study provided encouraging statistics on ignition interlock device usage. States requiring all DUI offenders to use a device before driving showed an increased in lives saved.
Repeat drunk driving offenders are often ordered to install an interlock device. The device connects a breathalyzer, to the vehicle’s ignition system. Drivers must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) below the legal limit for the car to start.
Depending on the state, the vehicle will not start if an ignition interlock device detects a BAC of .02 to .04 or higher. Also, all recorded data gets reported to the authorities, so they know about failed attempts to start each offender’s vehicle.
Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia now require interlock devices in the vehicles of first-time offenders as well (“all-offender law.”)
Based on statistics collected from the states with an all-offender law in place, the IIHS study shows a marked decrease in drunk driving fatalities when the state requires ignition interlock devices all convicted drunk drivers, not just repeat offenders.
IIHS research shows drunk driving fatalities shrunk by 3% in states where they only required interlock devices for repeat offenders.
However, the number of fatalities decreased by 16% in states requiring interlock devices for all offenders. In other words, statistics reveal that states with the all-offender law save five times as many lives.
CONGRATULATIONS GOES TO MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING FOR NEW STATE LEGISLATION
The tireless efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in state legislatures across the country include supporting the use of interlock devices instead of drivers’ license suspension. Unfortunately, monitoring suspensions are not effective.
MADD cites studies showing 50% to 75% of offenders continue driving while their license is under suspension, unlike those with interlock devices who cannot start their vehicles when alcohol use is detected and reported in real time.
Drunk driving claimed the lives of 10,497 Americans in 2016. That works out to about 30 people per day, and one person every 50 minutes who die from alcohol-related crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] of .08 or higher.)”
The NHTSA added, “In 2016, there were 2,017 people killed in alcohol-related crashes where drivers had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to .07 g/dL).”
Ignition interlock devices continue to improve. Some include cameras and pattern-recognition technology to identify the person using the apparatus. By confirming the identity of the driver, it becomes far less likely that an offender can ask another person to breathe into the device. Also, performing a breathalyzer test for someone else can lead to license suspension and possible criminal charges.
The cost of ignition interlock device ranges from $50 to $150, as well as a monthly fee of $50 to $150 for monitoring and maintenance costs. When the time comes to remove the device, the offender also pays a removal fee.
CALIFORNIA’S NEW ALL-OFFENDER LAW TAKES EFFECT IN 2019
In California, the new all-offender law is scheduled to take effect in 2019. It will require most DUI offenders to install interlock devices, including first-time offenders.
The new law allows offenders to continue driving on a restricted license unless attempts are made to tamper with the interlock device or to drive another vehicle. Those choices will be treated as separate crimes and may result in license suspension and significant fines.
The average drunk driver will drink and drive up to 80 times before being arrested. All-offender laws are the most effective way to manage people convicted of drunk driving, but there are still a lot of impaired drivers on the road.
Four ways to stay safe are:
- avoid driving at night
- be especially careful on weekends
- teach young people the facts about drunk driving
- arrange for a designated driver whenever you drink
HIRE AN EXPERIENCED ACCIDENT ATTORNEY IF YOU ARE INJURED
If you or a family member are suffering from the reckless actions of a drunk driver, the Levinson Law Group can help. We specialize in California personal injury law and are actively involved in MADD’s on-going efforts to legislate safer roads in California, and across the United States.