Banned From Driving, He Gets 10th OUI. Hello, Massachusetts?

banned from driving he gets 10 OUIsDoes any individual arrest tell you about the effectiveness of a state’s laws? You could say that an anecdote isn’t data, that you can’t generalize from one poor outcome.

But Mothers Against Drunk Driving says you’d be wrong. Specifically, if a man is able to get OUI number 10 after being banned from driving for life, something is wrong with the system.

And MADD would be right. Because it’s not just an anecdote: it’s a case of a man who has repeatedly endangered the lives of others by driving drunk, with no prevention forthcoming from the state.

Massachusetts has done what it could, of course, having convicted and punished Robert Sheridan of Amesbury according to the state’s laws. In 2005 Sheridan’s license was revoked for life. And that is the problem. Many people, including those in legislatures and courts, feel that license revocation is an effective prevention for drunk driving – or any driving. The sad fact is that more than half of suspended drivers get behind the wheel at some point, and incorrigible drunk drivers will be driving drunk, license or no license.

MADD Wants Ignition Interlocks for Massachusetts

MADD’s answer is for an all-offender ignition interlock law for Massachusetts – meaning that all OUIs result in a term with an ignition interlock. Currently 30 states mandate the devices for all drunk driving offenses, including first offenses, and the statistics show that such laws bring down the number of alcohol-related road fatalities.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Yes, 10 drunk driving arrests is too many: any system that allows it is not doing its utmost to prevent recidivism. The first step, as MADD knows, is to have an effective ignition interlock program in place that requires all offenders to drive sober – or not drive at all. And license suspension just won’t do that. If the law allows a person banned from driving for life to own a vehicle, then an ignition interlock must be part of the deal.