An Ignition Interlock Law for Texas Would Be a Fitting Memorial to Abdallah

In 2009 two-year-old Abdallah Kader was riding in his parents’ car when a drunk driver crashed a pickup truck into it, causing serious and irreversible brain damage. The driver, one Stewart Richardson, had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) about three times the legal limit.

An ignition interlock law would prevent some tragediesAfter six years in a vegetative state, Abdallah died, leaving behind grieving parents and a lot of questions.

Why was a driver with seven DUI convictions on record, including one for an injury-causing crash, out on the road? What could have been done to prevent this horrible event?

In fact, a law called the Abdella Khader Act did pass, but its scope was limited to the tragedy in question: it raises to felony status a drunk driving offense in which a victim is left in a vegetative state, and increases jail time for DWI cases in which the offender’s blood alcohol content is twice the legal limit.

ignition-interlock-lawWhat was needed, and is still needed, is a law which prevents such tragedies as the one that befell Abdallah. Ignition interlock laws might have done it. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recommends that every DUI offender – including first offenders – should have to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle for a set mandatory period of time. This period would lengthen for subsequent offenses. In fact, a number of states can impose a lifetime ignition interlock restriction on incorrigible repeat offenders. Those people can continue to drink, but they cannot start their car if they have been drinking. The driver who caused the 2009 crash would have been a good candidate for a lifetime interlock.

Texas needs to do more to honor the memory of Abdallah Kader. Passing a comprehensive ignition interlock law – one that includes first offenders – would be the right thing to do.