The Wyoming Legislature is About to Make Roads More Lethal

wyoming-24-7-programs-bad-ideaEvery once in a while, well-meaning legislators make a big mistake. This is one of those times.

The state is Wyoming, and the bill is SF 86. The Senate passed it, and if the House does the same, the resulting law will allow first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater to avoid the mandatory six-month ignition interlock period, and instead enter into a 24/7 sobriety program for 3 months.

Backwards Thinking

The .15 BAC level is what many states term “super drunk” – a high level of intoxication that renders a driver extremely dangerous on the road. Virtually all states now mandate an ignition interlock – a car breathalyzer device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – for super drunk offenses. In fact, the trend is to require the devices for all offenses.

A driver with a .15 BAC is one who has shown a serious lack of judgment. An ignition interlock is the only appropriate measure for such an offender. While 24/7 programs can be helpful in treating alcoholism, they cannot stop a drunk driver from starting his or her car. Only an ignition interlock can do that.

The Proof is in the Reports

In recent months more and more impartial organizations dedicated to road safety have stated that ignition interlocks should be required for all drunk driving offenders. Most recently, the National Governors Association recommended ignition interlocks. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety released its 2018 Roadmap, which also urged states to adopt ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has long been a proponent of the devices, noting that they have prevented well over 2 million incidences of drunk driving since interlocks were first adopted.

24/7 Programs – Well-meaning But Inadequate

Even those who operate 24/7 programs are opposed to Wyoming SF 86, since they are aware that such programs are not a replacement for ignition interlocks, but rather are best used in conjunction with the devices. If protection of the public is paramount, an ignition interlock needs to be in the picture.

If you are a Wyoming resident, you can take action to ensure that 24/7 is not used in Wyoming unless an ignition interlock is also present. A serious matter like road safety should be handled with the most up-to-date research in mind. SF 86 is not based on any good research, and it will make driving in Wyoming less safe, because more drunk drivers will at the wheel.