Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports technology that stops someone who fails a breathalyzer test from driving has prevented nearly 2 million people from driving drunk. The technology requires the driver to blow into a small device wired into the car. If the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds legal limits, the car will not start.

Since 1999, 25 states have passed laws requiring people with drunk-driving offenses to install the device, known as an ignition interlock system. Currently, the criteria for who is required to have an ignition interlock device, and at what blood alcohol level they will be prohibited from driving, varies from state to state.

The data in the MADD report was supplied by the 11 major manufacturers of ignition interlock systems. When the driver blows into the device, it sends a signal with the BAC information back to the device manufacturer. Data indicates more than 1.77 million people who had a BAC of 0.08 were stopped from driving by the devices, and more than 12.72 million who had a BAC of at least 0.025 were stopped. The systems automatically stop drivers with a BAC of .025 or higher.

Lobbyists for the alcohol industry argue placing tougher limits on the devices will put an unreasonable burden on state parole and monitoring budgets. They recommend the device only be used for the “most dangerous” drunk drivers. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that states require mandatory ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders, noting that this will allow a person to still drive to get to his or her job or to complete other necessary tasks, while preventing him from committing another drunk-driving offense. This will save time, money and lives down the road.

Source: Associated Press

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