Congratulations, Texas. Thanks To You, Half the USA is Now Driving on Safer Roads

Governor Greg Abbott has just signed HB 2246 into law. That means Texas is the 25th state to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers who choose to drive while suspended. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

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Most of the states now have ignition interlock laws of some kind. However, many states require the device for second or third offenses, or for high BAC (blood alcohol concentration) offenders. Texas has declared that any driver arrested with a BAC over the legal limit of .08 must use the device.

Why is this important? Because research has shown that states that pass all-offender ignition interlock laws dramatically reduce their rate of alcohol-related crashes. And Texas now has an extremely high rate of drunk driving road fatalities.

It stands to reason. License suspensions on their own don’t work. More than half of suspended drivers defy their suspensions at least sometimes, and those that tend to drink and drive will keep on doing it. An ignition interlock, however, ensures sobriety at the wheel. If the driver has been drinking, the vehicle won’t start and the failed test is logged and sent to the authorities.

All-offender laws are taking over because they:

  • Ensure that the driver of the vehicle is sober
  • Allow the offender to get to work and school, so life is disrupted less
  • Allow problem drinkers to drive to counseling and treatment
  • Remind the offender constantly of the consequences of drunk driving

Furthermore, unlike jails, the ignition interlock is paid for by the offender, easing the burden on society at large.

We hope that Governor Abbott’s signing of HB2246 marks the turning point for all-offender ignition laws. Legislators in other states can point to the fact that half the country has adopted this very sensible road safety legislation, and they will work to keep their own state from falling behind the curve.

Now, which state is going to be the one to put these laws in the majority? We’ll be waiting for more good news.