NY DUI Driver Has 23 Suspensions – More Proof They Don’t Work!

23-license-suspensions-in-nyHave you any idea how persistent you need to be to get your driver’s license suspended 23 times? Yet it did happen, to a man in Monroe County, New York.  39-year-old Khalid Wilson was arrested for speeding and then refusing a breath test. A check of his record showed a total of 23 suspensions on his license. He’s now awaiting trial.

The point is not to scold Mr. Wilson, who has plenty of scolding ahead of him in any case. The point is to highlight the uselessness of one of the most common punishments for drunk driving: license suspension.

Whenever we hear of a drunk driver who has caused trouble, we also hear shouts of, “get rid of his license,” or “he should be off the roads.”

missThe problem is this: statistics show that license suspensions don’t work for any but the mildest of offenders. An estimated 50 to 75 percent of offenders with suspended or revoked licenses will drive anyway. They ignore the suspension. Worse, if they have an alcohol problem, then they will be driving impaired, unlicensed, uninsured.

License suspension, then, does not serve society, and it doesn’t serve the offenders who need counseling and treatment to overcome their dependence on alcohol.

missThe answer is a well-administered ignition interlock program. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

A well-designed program ensures that the device is installed on the vehicle (this requires some vigilance, as compliance is where an interlock program can be tripped up). Once it’s installed, the data from the device (including failed tests) is monitored, and if there is a problem, steps are taken to ensure that the offender is getting proper treatment.  A certain number of failed tests should result in an extended interlock period, and the device should not be removed until a certain period (in some places it’s four months) passes with no failed tests.

Today’s lesson: suspensions don’t work for DUI. Interlocks do. Interlocks plus supervision is the key to lowering recidivism rates.

Taking away a license might seem a more logical and intuitive way to deal with DUI offenders, but there are reasons why it’s not. Monroe County just saw 23 of them.