Iowa Is Now 32nd State With an All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law
Some signatures cash checks, others validate wills or add one’s voice to a petition. And some signatures save lives. Iowa governor Kim Reynolds just put her name on a document that falls squarely in the last category: she signed a law requiring all drunk driving offenders to install an ignition interlock. At the stroke of a pen, she has kept an untold number of drunk drivers off Iowa’s roads.
An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Previously Iowa did not require the devices for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under .10, but with the new law. All drunk drivers whose BAC meets or exceeds the legal limit of .08 BAC will be required to install the devices in order to drive.
The Law Works Because Ignition Interlocks Work
It’s no coincidence that 32 states require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenses – the laws in question are based on research. Most recently, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that laws just like the one Governor Reynolds signed reduced the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent compared with jurisdictions with no interlock requirement.
Other organizations have formed a chorus to sing the praises of ignition interlocks and all-offender ignition interlock laws. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine voiced support for interlock devices in a recent report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that all-offender interlock laws reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been a staunch supporter of such laws for years. Why? Recently MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church said, “ … we know that the only way to stop someone intent on driving drunk is to literally block their vehicle from starting.”
Thanks to one signature by Iowa’s governor, those potential drunk drivers will be stopped before they start. We will never know the exact identities of the people whose lives will be saved, but that doesn’t matter. They’re out there, and thanks to the Iowa legislature, Governor Reynolds and many public-spirited citizens and organizations, they’ll be alive and unharmed.