Ignition Interlocks Stopped 2.3 Million Drunk Driving Attempts Over Past 10 Years
State-by-State Statistics Show Nearly 350,000 Stops in 2016
TALLAHASSEE (March 14, 2017) — Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a 50-state report on the number of times ignition interlocks have prevented convicted drunk drivers from starting their vehicles after detecting alcohol, saving thousands of lives across the nation. MADD announced the numbers at the state Capitol here, while calling on Florida lawmakers to enact legislation to become the next state to require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders.
Over the past 10 years, ignition interlocks have stopped 2.3 million drunk driving attempts by a driver with at least a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The nationwide threshold for alcohol impairment is .08 BAC.
Ignition interlocks are small “in-car breathalyzer” devices connected to a vehicle’s ignition that block the engine from starting if a pre-set level of alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. Passing ignition interlock laws that apply to all drunk driving offenders, starting with the first offense, is MADD’s top legislative priority.
“We now know just how many times people who have already been caught driving drunk — at least once — would be out on the road again, if not for these lifesaving devices,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Clearly, every state should have laws that require ignition interlocks after the first offense and for at least six months. This gives offenders a second chance, allowing them to continue with their daily lives as long as they don’t try to drive drunk again.”
The new data updates MADD’s first-ever ignition interlock report, published in February 2016. The data, collected from 11 major ignition interlock companies across the nation, shows 350,000 drunk driving attempts prevented in this past year alone. The previous 50-state report tallied 1.77 million ignition interlock stops since each state passed its current interlock law. This year, MADD calculated the totals for the past year and the past 10 years.
“Ignition interlocks stopped 955 drunk driving attempts every day from December 1, 2015 to December 1, 2016,” said Sheehey-Church. “Imagine the lives saved by keeping so many drunk drivers off the road. Now, imagine how many more lives we can save if every state passes ignition interlock laws for all offenders.”
Currently, 28 states and Washington, D.C., have all-offender ignition laws, which means interlocks are required after the first offense for any offender who seeks driving privileges following arrest tor conviction. All-offender ignition interlock laws are among MADD’s top legislative priorities, as part of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® launched in 2006. At the time, only New Mexico had an all-offender ignition interlock law. Since the start of the Campaign, drunk driving fatalities have dropped by 22 percent.
Ignition interlocks are supported by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other traffic safety organizations. They are also backed by 15 peer-reviewed studies.
MADD strongly supports ignition interlocks over the traditional response of suspending a drunk driving offender’s license, because studies show 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive with a suspended license.
There is absolutely no reason to trust that a drunk driver will simply obey an order to not drive or to only drive to work or school as ordered by a restricted license,” Sheehey-Church said. “Time and again, we hear tragic stories about repeat offenders who continue to drive with revoked driving privileges, with deadly consequences. That’s why MADD is calling on the remaining 22 states, including Florida, to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law this year. With more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths every year, we can’t afford to wait.”
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.