Ignition Interlocks Thwart 1,900 Drunk Driving Attempts Per Month

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) kicked off the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign to remind everyone to find a sober way home this holiday season. The message is especially urgent in California, where one in 12 of the nation’s drunk driving fatalities occurred in 2014.

“The consequences of choosing to drive drunk can be life altering, or even fatal,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “We want everyone to enjoy the holidays, so please remember to plan for a sober ride home. Law enforcement nationwide will be out in force to keep drunk drivers off our streets — Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

At a press conference, MADD unveiled a report that illustrates how ignition interlocks — if required for all drunk driving offenders — would save thousands of lives in California. According to the report, data from six major interlock manufacturers show that ignition interlocks, on average, stop 1,945 would-be drunk drivers with an illegal .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from starting their vehicles every month. During the past 5½ years, the devices have stopped more than one million offenders from starting their vehicles because their BAC exceeded the preset limit of .025.

Currently, only four California counties — Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare — require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders as part of a pilot program that began in July 2010.

“Today, as we remind Californians about the tragic consequences of drunk driving, we call on the Legislature to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law for the entire state to stop the senseless killing of innocent victims on our roadways,” said Mary Klotzbach, a MADD California volunteer and member of the MADD’s National Board of Directors. “My son was one of those victims. No other family should have to endure the devastating loss of a loved one to a drunk driver. This report shows that ignition interlocks stop drunk drivers and have the potential to save thousands of lives.”

MADD supports ignition interlocks for all offenders, because studies show they reduce repeat offenses while installed and after they are removed. The devices allow the offender to continue with family, work and school responsibilities while being monitored to ensure they have learned to drive sober. MADD believes ignition interlocks should be used in lieu of license suspension and in tandem with any other treatment or rehabilitative program to protect the public in the event the offender attempts to drink and drive again.

In California, an all-offender ignition interlock law is supported by: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Sheriff Gregory Ahorn, American Nurses Association of California, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, Crime Victims United of California, Emergency Nurses Association of California, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, National Football League, National Safety Council, National Transportation Safety Board, Peace Officers Research Association of California, and San Diego County.

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