Advocates and states disagree over the effectiveness of ignition interlocks, which are basically car breathalyzers, versus 24/7 sobriety. Congress, though, will soon weigh in.
In the fight against drunk driving, states are splitting into two groups. They disagree over the best way to discourage convicted drunk drivers from driving drunk again and, in the process, are raising questions about the effectiveness of ignition interlocks. Now, after years of state lawmakers choosing sides, Congress will get involved too.
The disagreements come a decade after all states adopted laws making it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Since then, the number of U.S. deaths in alcohol-related crashes has declined from about 13,000 a year to about 10,000 a year. But the numbers haven’t changed much since 2010, so advocates have pushed states to take further measures to try to decrease the death toll.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) champions laws that require all people convicted of drunk driving to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The devices prevent the cars or trucks from starting unless the driver breathes into the machine and proves the person is not under the influence of alcohol. So far 25 states have passed that type of law in the last decade.