THIS LETTER WAS SENT TO EDITORS OF OUR COMMUNITY’S NEWSPAPERS, BOTH ONLINE AND PRINT, IN SUPPORT OF STATUTE 316.656
Statute 316.656’s new amendment would seek to improve upon previously established laws concerning the handling of drunk driving [DUI] offenders. The new law would grant first time DUI offenders the opportunity to elect to install an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months. An offender who chooses to do so will have their first offense withheld from their record. At the average low cost of $2.50 a day, the trade-off between installing an ignition interlock device or only suspending an offender’s driver’s license is statistically significant. An estimated 50-70% of drunk driving offenders will continue to drive on a suspended license. Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants to separate drinking from driving and help all community members understand the dangers of combining the two.
Currently, Florida law dictates that ignition interlock devices are mandatory for anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or more. The legal limit is .08 BAC. Since adopting interlock devices for offenders who are have a BAC of .15 just 11 years ago, Florida has managed to thwart over 75,000 attempts of convicted DUI offenders reoffending and driving drunk.
So far 30 states have adopted All-Offender Interlock laws. Recently, Mothers Against Drunk Driving released our 2018 Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving Report to the nation. Florida received 2.5 stars out of 5, mainly due to our current ignition interlock law, and ranked 14th in the nation for drunk driving traffic fatalities.
One outlying issue concerning ignition interlock devices is the likelihood of circumventing the system. It was found that many offenders would either drive in a car without the system in place, or even have a sober passenger blow in the system. While no system is ever foolproof, anti-circumvention technology has made large strides in recent years. With the advent of GPS tracking and facial recognition, offenders are finding it harder and harder to get around the system.
While it is not the end all solution to drunk driving, interlocking devices are a step in the right direction. The American Automobile Association, Centers for Disease Control, National Transportation Board, and the National Safety Council are all in favor of ignition interlock devices for every DUI offender.
Please contact your local Senator and Representative to ask them to vote in favor of the amendment to Statute 316.656. Our community’s safety depends on it.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Southwest Florida