Nation’s Governors Urge Ignition Interlocks for All Drunk Drivers

nga-report-ignition-interlocksIt’s been a busy couple of months for road safety advocates: reports about what to do are coming fast and furiously. The MADD 2018 Report to the Nation was released not long ago. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its 2018 Roadmap about the same time. And the National Academies for Science, Engineering and Medicine brought out Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities.

All of these reports make a number of recommendations that states can adopt in order to save lives. One they all have in common is the need to require ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers, to reduce DWI recidivism. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Now the nation’s governors have weighed in, and once again, ignition interlocks are a paramount recommendation. The National Governors Association has released a publication, State Strategies to Reduce Highway and Traffic Fatalities and Injuries: A Road Map for States. The report details strategies that states need to adopt in order to reduce road deaths.

In terms of impaired driving, the report recommends:

  • Increasing the number of driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) courts and encouraging other courts to impose appropriate penalties
  • Limiting diversion and plea agreements for repeat DWI offenders
  • Promoting alcohol ignition interlock devices, and requiring them for first offenders
  • Considering license plate and vehicle impoundment for drunk driving

The report also recommends more thorough alcohol screening, assessment and treatment options.

It’s no coincidence that all of these reports recommend ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers as a measure against repeat drunk drivers. States which have adopted the devices have seen a downturn in alcohol-related road crashes, and the most dramatic drops have been seen in states which require the devices for all drunk driving offenders, including first offenders.

We can now add the voices of America’s state governors to those of other road safety advocates who are pressing for all states to adopt ignition interlocks. The devices are the only method, apart from imprisonment, which actually prevents a drunk driver from taking to the road, and it’s the only measure that the offender, rather than the taxpayer, pays for.

That’s four major reports in a month, from experts, urging states to adopt and enforce ignition interlock laws. How many more voices need to speak up before state legislators listen and put ignition interlocks at the top of their road safety agenda?