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National Transportation Safety Board recommends ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended Tuesday that all people convicted of drunk driving should have ignition interlock devices installed in their cars to prevent them from operating their vehicle while intoxicated.

The NTSB said that legislation requiring ignition interlock even after the first DUI, even for drivers who are “only a sip” over the legal limit, could be a major factor in preventing collisions and especially accidents involving a wrong-way driver. Those opposed to unilateral treatment of intoxicated drivers argue that punishment for drunk driving should not be “one size fits all” – someone with a blood alcohol content of .09 should not be charged as harshly as someone with a BA content of .19, for example.

Although all 50 states have the ability to apply ignition interlock penalties, only 17 use the devices for first-time offenders. In California, four counties, including Los Angeles and Sacramento, have pilot programs for first time DUIs – in the rest of the state, only repeat offenders are required to install ignition interlock.

Reports show a steady decline in the number of traffic accidents and death in the past year, what effect could a nationwide ignition interlock program have on future statistics? Is ignition interlock an appropriate punishment for DUI offenders? Is it effective?


Silas Miers,  Law Enforcement Program Specialist, California office of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Ignacio Hernandez, head of Hernandez Strategy Group, LLC, a lobbying firm that worked with the California DUI Lawyers Association to oppose the 2010 ignition interlock pilot program, active in 4 counties in California