New research indicates that mandatory interlock device requirements for all offenders have helped save numerous lives in recent years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, alcohol interlock devices reduce the number of impaired drivers in fatal accidents by 16 percent. If all states are required to adopt the requirement for mandatory interlock devices, this could result in saving an additional 500 lives each year.
Laws of this nature are necessary due to the continuing problem of impaired drivers on the road. Nearly 25 percent of fatal car accidents involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. During the last 20 years, there has not been much change in the number of impaired driving accidents.
About mandatory interlock device laws
Currently, 45 states require ignition interlock devices for some types of offenders. However, only 28 states and the District of Columbia require the installation of these devices for first-time offenders. These devices require a driver to breathe into them. If the driver's blood alcohol concentration is below a certain level, the vehicle will start. Different jurisdictions require different minimum blood alcohol concentrations.
These devices are typically only installed after a person has already been arrested for drunk driving or similar offenses. They are intended to help prevent future incidents of drunk driving injuries or deaths. However, if would-be offenders are aware that they could be required to install these devices, this may serve as a deterrent and prevent people from driving drunk.
The study researchers compared the number of fatal accidents that involved impaired drivers with fatal accidents that did not involve impaired drivers. They found that states that mandate ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders reduced the number of fatal accidents caused by impaired drivers by 16 percent, compared to states with no ignition interlock law. Researchers estimated that approximately 543 fatalities would have been prevented in 2016 had all states used mandatory ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders. Researchers also found that states that have laws that require ignition interlock devices only for repeat offenders only reduced he number of fatal accidents caused by impaired drivers by three percent.
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