Safety Org. Rates Drunk Driving Laws. Is Your State in Danger?

inadequate-state-laws-against-drunk-drivingDriverless cars in the long term; ignition interlocks and better laws in the short term. These are the tools that will address the major public health hazard that is road deaths in the United States, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The organization, an alliance of safety groups and insurance companies working to save lives on America’s roads, has recently published its 2018 Roadmap, a report indicating where we are as a nation and what changes have to be made to reduce to the death toll.

The organization rated 50 states on whether or not they had adequate laws against drunk driving, as well as laws covering issues such as child passenger safety, teen driving, and distracted driving. Here are some of the Advocates’ recommenations.

Ignition Interlocks

Advocates – like just about every other road safety organization – supports mandatory ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, including first offenders. Currently 30 states have such laws – other states mandate the devices for repeat offenses only, or for first offenses only when the intoxication is extreme. The report quotes the AAA, which has stated that nearly eight in ten Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all who are convicted for driving under the influence, including first offenders.

Child Endangerment

Driving drunk with a child in the vehicle is an especially grave offenses, for which penalties should be severe. 47 states have such laws, which means that three laggards are doing their children a disservice.

Open Container Laws

Believe it or not, there are states – 9 of them – that do not outlaw having open containers of alcohol in a vehicle, despite federal legislation which encourages states to adopt such laws.

How The States Stack Up

States that are considered in the “Danger” category by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety are:

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It’s worth nothing that all of these states were in the Danger category because they lack an all-offender ignition interlock law at present (although California’s will take effect in 2019). In addition, South Dakota doesn’t have an adequate child endangerment law, and Wyoming is soft on open containers.

Some of these states do better in the combined rankings because, for instance, they have good seat belt and distracted driving laws.

We know, however, how many lives are lost due to impaired driving in this country – about 10,000 a year. Perhaps it’s time for states to heed the voice of Advocates for Road and Auto Safety – and countless other public safety organizations and committed activists – and pass laws against drunk driving that do the job. That means, in particular, all-offender ignition interlock laws.