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Monday, February 16, 2009
Ignition Interlocks Stop Drunk Drivers
Each year, roughly 13,000 people are killed on U.S. roads by drunk drivers, and hundreds of thousands more are left injured. To stem the tide of senseless deaths, California and Wisconsin are considering new laws mandating that all people convicted of drunk driving to use a technology called an ignition interlock. Before starting a vehicle, convicted drivers must first blow into a device that determines their blood-alcohol level. If the level is too high, the car will not start. According to experts, ignition interlocks, which are already routinely used in 14 states, can reduce subsequent drunk-driving offenses by up to 64%.
Opponents say that interlock manufacturers, to increase profits, have aggressively lobbied to make the units mandatory. Convicted drunk drivers must pay up to $110 a month for them. However, law-enforcement officials say ignition interlocks are very effective in curbing drunk driving. "When the device is on, you see a decrease in repeat offenders," says Barbara Lauer of Florida's Department of Motor Vehicles. "Once it's off, the numbers go right back up."
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