MADD Urges Georgia House to Advance DUI Reform Measure
HB 671 expands the use of ignition interlocks to help stop drunk driving
Atlanta, GA – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) calls on the House to advance HB 671 introduced by Representative Tom Rice. HB 671, expands Georgia’s mandatory repeat offender interlock law to first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater and for refusals. The measure passed out of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on February 25.
“MADD supports HB 671 as it will help protect Georgia residents from drunk drivers” said MADD Georgia Executive Director Barry Martin. “Ignition interlocks are a key component of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® and an effective countermeasure in our fight against drunk driving.”
In 2012, 301 people were killed in crashes caused by drunk drivers in Georgia. Since 1999, ignition interlocks have been required for all repeat offenders in Georgia. Currently, 35 states require the use of ignition interlocks for some type of first-time convicted drunk driver. Florida and Alabama require interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater while Tennessee requires the devices for all convicted drunk drivers. South Carolina requires interlocks for all repeat offenders but lawmakers are considering a measure similar to HB 671.
HB 671 extends Georgia’s mandatory repeat offender ignition interlock requirement to first-time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of .15 or greater or those who refuse a chemical test. Under the HB 671, a first-time offender with a BAC of .15 or greater or someone who refuses must use an ignition interlock for at least one year. The offender can start the time on ignition interlock immediately upon conviction. An interlock costs the offender around $2.50 a day to lease from a vendor. HB 671 creates an indigent fund paid by interlock vendors so that poorer offenders can go an interlock. Currently, judges waive interlock requirements for repeat offender deemed indigent.
Ignition interlocks are the most effective approach to stop DUI compared to license revocation alone. License suspension with no interlock requirement is no longer the best approach as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ignition interlocks, on average, reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent compared to license suspension alone. Ignition interlocks help the convicted drunk driver learn how to drive sober following a drunk driving conviction.
Additionally, studies show that a first-time convicted drunk driver is not a first-time offender, but rather it is simply the first time they have been caught. First-time offenders have driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are convicted.
“HB 671 will save lives and stop drunk driving while helping to prevent repeat offenses.MADD calls on the Georgia House of Representatives to advance HB 671,” added Martin.
For more information on interlocks, please visit www.madd.org/interlock.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.