Could Ohio Finally Pass Annie’s Law and Require Interlocks for All OVI Offenders?

Perhaps pressure is mounting because more states are considering requiring ignition interlocks for first OVI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Annie Rooney of Annie's Law, mandating ignition interlocks for all OVI offenses

Annie Rooney

In Ohio, such a bill was debated in the Ohio legislature last December. Named Annie’s Law, after Annie Rooney, a lawyer who was killed by a drunk driver in Chillicothe.

The bill died, but it might be revived again. Sponsors are now working on a new version of the bill.

Why all offenders? An ignition interlock is an unusual kind of measure to require after a drunk driving offense. It is preventative, not punitive. By preventing a vehicle from starting if the driver fails a breath test, it effectively takes a drunk driver off the road.

There are three factions who tend to resist the idea of ignition interlocks for first OVI offenders:

  1. Those who feel it is too severe a punishment for first offenders who, after all, have just made one mistake. In fact, statistics show that by the time of his or her first arrest, a driver has driving drunk about 80 times.
  2. Those who feel it is not severe enough. Some citizens and legislators feel that letting a driver get back behind the wheel just weeks after a drunk driving conviction is too easy; their license should be suspended for a long period instead. The problem is that suspensions don’t work. More than half of drivers with suspended licenses ignore the suspension, sometimes multiple times. And that puts an uninsured and possibly impaired driver back on the road
  3. The liquor and restaurant lobby. Organizations charged with increasing the profits of distilleries, breweries, wineries and chain restaurants will fight any restrictions on alcohol use.

States that have passed laws like Annie’s Law have seen dramatic downturns in impaired driving collisions and deaths.

Currently, half the states in the country mandate ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, with Texas the latest addition to the list. It would be a feather in Ohio’s cap for the legislature to pass Annie’s Law and become the 26th state to protect its citizens so thoroughly on its roads and streets.

New Location: Finishline Installations of Moses Lake Washington

FinishlineInstallationsLogoWhy wait around? If you need a car breathalyzer and you’re in Moses Lake Washington, come to the ignition interlock experts: Finishline Installations. They’re known for speedy, efficient service. And now they’re part of the LifeSafer family of ignition interlock providers.

Finishline-installations-LifeSaferFinishline technicians will install your interlock device, train you in its use, answer all your questions, and perform speedy and efficient monitoring and calibration. They’ll have you back behind the wheel in no time, driving legally and safely with a new LifeSafer ignition interlock.

Need an ignition interlock in Moses Lake? Go here for more information and to view a map, or call 800-328-9890 to book your appointment now.

Your Hump-Day Recess: DUIs Crash Fine Vintage Cars — Now That Really Hurts!

vintage pontiac hit by dui

A 1935 Pontiac deserves better than a DUI crash.

For years now, the LifeSafer blog has covered the many terrible effects that stem from drunk driving: death, injury, imprisonment, expense, unemployment, and more. There’s no doubt that impaired driving is a miserable thing to do yourself and your loved ones.

But what about the poor cars? Can we give them a thought today?

Recently, two drunk drivers in two different countries did what car lovers would consider beyond the pale: they crashed fine vintage cars as a result of drunk driving.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma Johnny Leon Taylor crashed his perfectly lovely 1935 Pontiac into a taxi while driving under the influence. And in London, Oliver Horsnall piloted his vintage Triumph Vitesse, a 1960s sports car, into a Ford Focus.

man drunk driving vintage triumph crashes

So does this old Triumph.

In a logical world, this would be no more of an outrage than any of the other drunk driving incidents that happen every day – thousands of them, despite constant reminders in both countries not to mix drinking and driving.

However, our world is emotional as well as logical, and when we see gorgeous specimens of automotive art get squished because someone has made a decision universally known to be stupid – Taylor even admitted that he was “being stupid” – it somehow seems even more pathetic.

How can a car survive 80 years, only to get banged up by a drunk driver?

In the real world, we fight drunk driving because of the dangers it poses to life and limb, and because it causes untold suffering to the families of offenders and victims. That alone should be enough to want to strengthen laws and stay vigilant.

But those cars… you have to admit, that hurts. So don’t drink and drive. The car you save may be really, really cool.

Another DUI Smartphone App Hits the Market. Does This One Encourage Drunk Driving?

Does a DUI smartphone app make drunk driving a bit to easy?One tech industry growth area seems to be the DUI smartphone app. A quick search of Google’s Play Store reveals no less than a hundred of them. A few are joke apps, a number are attached to breathalyzers that plug into one’s phone, but a great many of them are there to help you if you find yourself arrested for DUI.

What can a DUI smartphone app do for an alleged drunk driver? One of the most recent apps to appear, called DueyDialer, gives its purpose as “legal representation for DUI.” You open the app, click a button, and are connected to a lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, the app will choose one for you.

Apart from finding an attorney, DueyDialer (and a number of similar apps) records what goes on in your vehicle so that the lawyer, and presumably the court, have a record of the arrest.

Not everyone who has heard about the app is delighted. In New York, according to news reports, some attorneys worry that the recording could work against their clients.

For others, such apps possess an “ick-factor” because they seem to be encouraging or excusing drunk driving, though the app’s makers state that this is not the case. DueyDialer is described in interviews as a marketing tool for lawyers, who sign up to be contacted when someone in their state is in trouble.

Drunk driving has been a fertile area for smartphone programmers for years now. It was back in 2011 that Apple banned DUI checkpoint finder apps from its store. Google, however, has no problem with them. The apps stay on this side of the law, since police are required to announce sobriety checkpoint locations before setting them up anyway. Yet the stigma remains: there’s a difference between announcing a DUI checkpoint beforehand to satisfy the law, and warning drivers that they will be stopped if they don’t turn back now?

Whatever you think of DUI smartphone apps and checkpoint warnings, one question needs to be asked: why are alleged drunk drivers the only one to get such a resource? The most common crimes in the US are larceny/theft, burglary, vehicle theft, assault, and robbery. Yet there aren’t any specific apps for people accused of embezzlement or forgery. You can’t tap an app if you’ve been hauled in for stealing a Camry. There’s no “Whoops, I Was Arrested Breaking Into a House and Making Off With a Laptop” application to get you out of trouble. Drunk Driving is the only crime with its own suite of software to ease alleged offenders’ legal burden.

The reason might be that there is an enduring contingent of people who are suspicious of those who pursue drunk drivers, whether they be police, the courts, or safety organizations. Those who object to anti-DUI efforts consider them all either a racket designed to collect money or evidence of the erosion of constitutional rights. And that’s at the heart of the controversy: deep down, too many people believe that drunk driving is a constitutional right, or somehow connected to one. These people need to understand that drunk driving is a dangerous crime, and a totally preventable one. It’s a message that doesn’t always get through and unfortunately, there’s no app for that.

Study: State Alcohol Laws Affect Drunk Driving Rates

Alcohol laws help discourage drunk drivingThe states have been working hard to fight drunk driving for decades now: the 1970s were when anti-drunk driving campaigning started in earnest. And there’s no doubt that those awareness campaigns have been successful in discouraging drunk driving in this country.

But once everyone is aware that impaired driving is a bad idea, what next? What works to keep bringing down those DUI numbers?

The answer appears to be states’ alcohol policies. A recent study by the Boston University schools of public health and medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health indicates that rates of drunk driving are likely to decline as a state’s alcohol policy toughens up.

According to the report, state governments have two ways to bring down the number of DUI offenses:

  • Drinking-oriented policies: measures to curtail binge drinking, which has a high correlation with drunk driving, as well as alcohol taxation, regulation of production, and restriction of alcohol sales.
  • Driving-oriented policies: measures to combat the crime of drunk driving itself. These can include ignition interlocks, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, as well as sobriety checkpoints.

The findings of the study: both methods are needed to discourage impaired driving. In brief, alcohol restrictions discourage people from getting drunk, and driving restrictions discourage them from driving while drunk.

Like many such findings, this one seems obvious now that it’s out in the world. But in fact, legislators do not always agree on the best way to fight drunk driving, and there is a reason that many states get a failing grade in MADD’s ratings for anti-DUI efforts.

Some states do not suspend licenses automatically upon arrest for DUI. Half the country still does not mandate ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders.  And policies are scattered in matters such as breath test refusal.

As we have said before, there is no magic bullet that will end drunk driving. Among the things we know work in part are drunk driving awareness campaigns, ignition interlocks, sobriety courts, and, thanks to this research, thorough and sensible alcohol laws to discourage excessive drinking in general.

A California Citizen’s Arrest and What It Says About Drunk Driving Today

A small news item that reveals a larger trend: a few nights ago a driver crashed his vehicle into two parked cars just after midnight. He tried to flee the scene afterwards, but a group of residents confronted him and held him until police could arrive.

Witnesses held a drunk driving suspect until police could arrest himAccord to police reports, the man was very drunk.

The circumstances are neither unique nor particularly dramatic: drunk driver tries to get away after a crash and fails. But the incident does show a change that has occurred in the minds of the public.

Even though the man injured no one, the witnesses were determined that he be arrested for his crime. It obviously wasn’t the property damage to the cars that made them act. Had they just been concerned about fenders and headlights, they could have taken down the driver’s license number or compelled him to write down his details for the owners of the cars.

No, it was the fact that he was driving drunk that made an arrest necessary. They wanted the man off the road. For years now organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Ad Council have been spreading the word about the lethal nature of drunk driving. What was once seen as a reckless and unfortunate habit is now recognize as a crime.

It’s hard now to imagine a time when drunk drivers were driving home by cops and told to sleep it off; when there were few laws against impaired driving; and when people who were killed by drunk drivers were just considered “unlucky,” as if they’d been, say, struck by lightning.

Times have changed, and the good people of National City saw the scene that night for what it was: a man engaged in a crime who was about to get away and endanger lives. He needed to be stopped, and they knew it.

In an earlier age, onlookers would have shaken their heads, and perhaps the most public-spirited of them would have taken down a license number as the man sped off to his next collision. Last week the driver was taken out of action. That’ s progress.

New Location: Tri-County Automotive of Montrose Colorado

lifesafer-tri-county-automotive-of-montrose-coloradoFor more than 15 years, Tri-County Automotive of Montrose Colorado has been offering top-flight automotive service to customers. Now LifeSafer welcomes Tri-County Automotive to our family of ignition interlock service specialists.

Come to Tri County to have your LifeSafer ignition interlock installed, serviced and calibrated. Their friendly staff will take excellent care of you.

For more information about Tri-County Automotive go here, or call 888-855-0630 to book your appointment now.

Your Hump-Day Recess: Stevie Wonder on Drunk Driving

Stevie Wonder ad against drunk driving

(click to enlarge)

Stevie Wonder, who has sold more than 100 million albums and singles, and who is on every top-ten list of pop artists, has always been an inspiring figure. Despite the temptations of stardom, he’s stood for decency and integrity, and has shown a refreshing lack of poor judgment all his life. As such, Stevie is a natural choice as a spokesman for a public service ad. But Stevie Wonder on Drunk Driving? The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board thought it was a great idea, and the artists agreed.

The result is this memorable ad.

As a bonus, here’s a 1985 Ad Council PSA featuring a catchy jingle written and performed by Stevie Wonder. Interestingly, the world of drunk driving PSAs has a number of slogans that we remember — think of “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” — but it’s hard to recall another jingle. It’s doubtful anyone with as much talent as this man has written any. Paging Tom Waits.

Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, the world’s worst traffic jams, a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New Zealand, the world’s worst car modification, Vince and Larry, our favorite crash test dummies, a karaoke microphone breathalyzer, extraterrestrial advice on drunk driving, some excellent Soviet anti-drunk-driving posters. a lesson on how buzzed driving can ruin your love life, South Australia to Drunk Drivers: Grow Up!, a woman calls 911 to report herself for DUI, and Felix the Cat and Drunk Driving.

When You’re Licked, You’re Licked: Ice Cream Truck Driver Faces Tough Oregon DUI Laws

ice-cream-truck-duiSome people drive to and from work, and some drive for their work. Neither should be driving while impaired, but the law has special requirements for commercial drivers.

Police in Cornelius, Oregon got a call about an ice cream truck that was driving into oncoming traffic. The van had hit the curb twice – a standard indication of drunk driving. The police located the van and booked the driver for DUI.

The legal limit for alcohol while driving in Oregon is .08%. However, for commercial drivers (bus, truck and taxi drivers, and also ice cream van drivers) the limit is .04%. The reasons for this might not be obvious, but they are nonetheless compelling. Some commercial drivers are handling dangerous cargo, and are driving large vehicles which require special skills and care to drive. Others are entrusted with the lives of passengers, including children.

The impaired ice cream vendor was driving in the vicinity of children; the fact that he couldn’t keep from hitting the curb showed how dangerous he was to the kids around him.

Oregon DUI laws acknowledge the greater responsibility of commercial drivers. A CDL holder endures a year’s suspension for a first DUI, with no opportunity for diversion, such as an ignition interlock (car breathalyzer), which would allow driving as long as the operator is sober. For a second conviction, the suspension is for life, with the possibility of reinstatement after 10 years.

Oregon’s anti-DUI efforts, in particular their ignition interlock laws, have helped bring down traffic fatality numbers for the state. Getting particularly tough on commercial drivers is an important part of those efforts, especially when driving impaired endangers our most vulnerable citizens.

A Swing and a Miss for Tennessee’s Sexist Anti-DUI Campaign

Tennessee sexist anti-dui campaign strikes outIt seemed like a good idea at the time.

  • What demographic group do the largest number of drunk drivers fall into? Young males.
  • What appeals to young males? Dumb, sexist humor.
  • So how do you get through to young males? Use dumb, sexist humor in your anti-drunk-driving PSAs.

Tennessee's sexist anti-dui campaign.The Governor’s Highway Safety Office thought they had it down. They devised a clever campaign that was intended to appeal to young men who would read the snarky comments on beer coasters and realize they’d better sober up.

  • The implied message, in broad terms: alcohol causes you to make bad decisions.
  • The actual message: alcohol causes you to end up with a dreadful woman – you know the type.

One of the gems to be found on the coasters was: “After a few drinks the girls look hotter and the music sounds better. Just remember if your judgment is impaired so is your driving.”

There have been plenty of efforts to target young men and their propensity to drink and drive. Often, the financial aspect is stressed. Other times, it’s the social liability of a DUI conviction.

But it’s one thing to target a demographic, and another to insult a good portion of those who don’t fit into it. Especially if those people are in the same bar with the first group, and using the same beer coasters.

The Highway Safety Office has apologized for the campaign.

Tennessee gets an A for effort, and an F for execution. It’s good that state officials are thinking about the problem of drunk driving, and trying to attract attention to the cause. For their next campaign, Tennessee might consider the advice they’ve been giving those drinkers: think about the consequences, and make the sensible decision. And if you know someone at the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, remember: friends don’t let friends launch a sexist anti-dui campaign.