Interlocks DO Prevent Recidivism

Sometimes it takes a high-profile person in the media to commit or be a victim of an injustice before people take notice. Josh Brent’s fatal drunk driving crash over the weekend is one such example.

Cowboys StadiumDallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was arrested on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter after his Mercedes flipped and caught fire early Saturday morning in Texas. When police arrived on the scene Brent was trying to pull his college and Cowboys teammate Jerry Brown, Jr. from the burning vehicle.  Brown was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Brent refused a breathalyzer and blood test, but because of no refusal laws in Texas, his blood samples were taken. He also failed a field sobriety test.  Brent was promptly arrested, arraigned the next day and released from jail on $500,000 bond, along with the requirement to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in his vehicle.

He faces a second-degree felony with consequences of a potential two- to 20-year prison sentence, along with a maximum $10,000 fine.

When people first heard about the crash and fatality, it was considered by some to be an accident. However, upon learning that this wasn’t Brent’s first DUI charge, people got angry. According to court documents, in 2009, while still a college football player at the University of Illinois, Brent pled guilty to DUI. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated DUI/no valid driver’s license. In that case he received a 60-day jail sentence, a fine of around $2,000 and 200 hours of community service.  He successfully completed his probation in July, 2011.

So he should have learned his lesson, right? Not necessarily. Offenders required to use an IID in their vehicle as a requirement to drive are reminded each and every day of their responsibility to remain sober behind the wheel. Perhaps if Brent had been ordered to install an IID in 2009, he would have learned a valuable lesson and planned for alternate transportation on Saturday night.

Research has conclusively shown that:

  • Ignition interlock devices reduce recidivism among both first-time and repeat offenders, including “hardcore” offenders—those offenders who repeatedly drive after drinking with high Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BACs) and are resistant to changing this behavior.
  • More than 10 evaluations of interlock applications in various states have demonstrated reductions in recidivism ranging from 50 to 90 percent while the interlock is installed on the offender’s vehicle.

Ironically, a study out of Illinois, the state where Brent was first convicted in 2009, found that participants in their interlock program had a reduced recidivism rate of 85 percent!

Weigh in on the topic. Do you think an interlock device after Brent’s 2009 conviction would have helped prevent last weekend’s tragedy? What consequences do you think Brent should face if he is convicted of intoxication manslaughter?