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Ignition Interlock Laws And Traffic Deaths

An ignition interlock device forces a driver to blow into a machine similar to a breathalyzer before starting the car. If the driver has alcohol on his or her breath, the car's ignition will not work. These devices are intended to help prevent drunk driving deaths as evidence has shown that a person who is convicted of DUI faces a high probability of driving drunk again.

In New Jersey, a first-time DUI offender may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle for 6-12 months after driver's license restoration. If the driver's blood alcohol content was 0.15 or higher, ignition interlock installation is mandatory. The laws concerning these devices vary from state to state. New federal legislation introduced this month has the potential to make these devices much more common.

New legislation, known as "Alisa's Law" would require all states to force drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices for at least six months once their licenses are restored. States that fail to enact that requirement would face a loss of federal transportation funding. Mandatory ignition interlock laws are already in place in 24 states, with California currently operating a pilot program to study the issue. The remaining states would likely fall in line quickly to require the devices if the law passes.

Drunk driving deaths make up roughly one-third of all deadly traffic accidents. Such accidents typically claim more than 10,000 lives each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has conducted research showing that interlock devices can cut DUI recidivism, a known problem, by 67 percent. Ignition interlock technology may be the key to saving countless families from the horror of losing a loved one.

Source: Forbes, "New Ignition Interlock Legislation Aims To Save Thousands From Drunk Driving Deaths" by Tanya Mohn, 7 July 2014

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