Ignition Devices to Deter Drunk Driving May Be Customized By Each State
Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 26, 2012 - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the top U.S. auto safety regulator, is recommending ignition interlock devices for first-time drunk driving offenders as a baseline safety system.
Ignition interlock devices are designed to prevent drunk drivers from starting their cars. The devices could be implemented on a state-by-state basis and the cost paid for by the drivers themselves.
Most drivers responsible for fatal car accidents in the U.S. test for alcohol consumption that is twice the legal limit, according to the NHTSA. In fact, more than 70 percent of deaths from auto accidents in 2010, involved drunk drivers with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher. The legal limit in the U.S. is a blood alcohol level of .08. The NHTSA is calling for all states to require drivers convicted of driving under the influence to have ignition interlock systems in their cars, even those for whom it as a first offense.
"If interlock systems are implemented across the board, each state can determine what level blood alcohol content is allowed," suggested Waxahachie personal injury attorney John Hale. "States can set the system to activate at levels lower than .08."
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 17 states currently have adopted laws that require ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders. Research from the NHTSA indicates that more than 10,000 people died in the U.S. in alcohol-related accidents in 2010, which is one death every 51 minutes.
A national surface-transportation law, passed in early 2012, and which took effect this October, gives states additional highway funds if they institute ignition interlock laws for convicted drunk drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that some 7,000 lives could be saved each year if U.S. drivers were prohibited from driving with a blood-alcohol level higher than .08.
A survey of DWI offenders by the NHTSA found that close to one-third of the drivers, who have been arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated each year, are repeat offenders. Stricter punishments for first-time offenders hopes to reduce this number.
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