MADD Report: Ignition Interlocks and Checkpoints Top Priority

madd-report-2016Every year we get a chance to take stock of how we as a nation are doing in our battle against impaired driving, when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) issues its yearly progress report. The new 2016 Report to the Nation outlines both the progress that has been made, and the many things that still need doing, in order to reach the goal of zero drunk driving victims. Two of its recommendations – interlocks and sobriety checkpoints – remain paramount, but the report outlines other recommendations as well.

In 2006, MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, a full-on initiative which resulted in better laws, more public awareness, and ultimately, a significant drop in drunk driving fatalities. In the ten years since the Campaign began, deaths due to drunk driving in the US went from 13,000 per year to 10,000. It’s still too many, but it’s a remarkable improvement, one which would not have happened without the Campaign and its supporters.

What Every State Must Do

The Campaign continues toward its goal of zero victims. MADD rates the states on their anti-drunk driving efforts, using a five-category system. However, this year the organization is using half-stars to provide a more accurate appraisal of each state’s efforts. The categories are:

  • Ignition interlocks: MADD is in favor of requiring these devices for all drunk driving convictions. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Currently 28 states mandate interlocks for all DUI offenses.
  • Sobriety checkpoints: law enforcement must be highly visible to be effective. Checkpoints not only catch offenders but serve as a warning to others not to drink and drive.
  • Administrative license revocation (ALR): revoking a license immediately upon arrest for DUI “removes the immediate threat of a drunk driver harming innocent bystanders.”
  • Child endangerment: driving drunk with a child should be considered child abuse, and should incur serious penalties.
  • No refusal: refusing a sobriety test should be a criminal offense everywhere, as it already is in 33 states.

The Vital Two: Ignition Interlocks and Checkpoints

MADD awards stars to each state depending on how well it employs these countermeasures. And it should be noted that the first two are, in MADD’s view, the most vital:

While all countermeasures are important … we know that ignition interlocks and sobriety checkpoints are the two most effective ways to dramatically reduce fatalities and injuries.

And so the fight begins for another year. MADD will stay at the forefront, but other safety organizations, schools, law enforcement agencies, and legislators all have a part to play. Check out the report and find out where we are as a nation. And perhaps next year’s report will show the country coming a little closer to the goal of zero drunk driving victims.