Drunk driving accidents kill or injure thousands of people every year. Several organizations, most notably Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), have created plans for stopping these tragedies. MADD has been a strong proponent of using ignition locks, devices that prevent cars from turning on when drivers have high blood alcohol levels.
All states require repeat drunk driving offenders to install ignition locks, but may vary on the specifics. For example, some states require a first time offense of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15, or twice the legal limit. Other states require ignition locks after repeat offenses. Organizations like MADD argue all 50 states could benefit from requiring ignition locks after the first offense, regardless of the BAC.
According to MADD, ignition locks have stopped more than 1.77 million drunk drivers from starting their vehicles since being invented in 1999. Centers for Disease Control statistics show repeat drunk driving offenses have declined by 67 percent since the inception of ignition locks.
It is impossible to know how many lives have been saved by ignition locks, but stopping 1.77 million drunk drivers suggests these devices are extremely beneficial for public safety.
Can Ignition Locks Save Lives?
The Washington Post recently published a story involving a father who lost his 24-year-old son to a drunk driving accident. His son was just starting out a career as a police officer, but his life was cut short by a person who had been busted for drunk driving only two months prior.
This grieving father believes ignition lock requirements for repeat offenders could have saved his son. Judging by the statistics from MADD and the CDC, he might be correct. If they were required for drunk drivers after the first offense, accidents like the one that took the life of a 24-year-old police officer could be prevented.
Louisiana requires ignition interlock devices for drivers arrested with BACs of 2.0 or higher, or for second and subsequent offenses.