According to a national study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the installation of ignition interlock devices has had a significant effect on the number of alcohol-related fatal crashes in the United States. Now, the state of Alabama is taking steps to require the installation of IIDs for those who have been charged with DUIs.
The study, which was released this month, found that in states with laws that require DUI offenders to install IIDs in their vehicles, drunk driving fatalities decreased by 16%. The study suggested that if all states required interlock devices, more than 500 lives could be saved annually. In 2016, approximately 10,497 people died in accidents wherein at least one driver’s BAC level was above the 0.08 limit, accounting for 28% of all traffic fatalities that year. Considering that the average drunk driver gets behind the wheel while impaired around 80 times before they’re ever arrested, it’s not surprising that the Governors Highway Safety Association is urging every state in the union to adopt laws pertaining to required IID installation.
Alabama is one state that’s taking action in this regard. While only 1% of civil cases ever reach Federal court, state criminal cases like DUIs are much more common and are generally responsible for far greater physical damage. Back in 2014, the state passed a bill involving IIDs, but it did not require installation for offenders who enter into a pretrial diversion program. Now, a new piece of legislation will require all DUI offenders to install these devices. The bill to close the prior loophole passed by a final vote in the House 98-0.
Many local residents and drunk driving prevention organizations are overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, as well. The existing law did not require all those convicted of DUIs, particularly first-time offenders, to install these devices in their vehicle. Once the bill is signed into law, it would keep all DUI offenders from operating their vehicle if alcohol is detected.
Amy Dennis, a mother who lost her son in a 2013 deadly crash caused by an out-of-control drunk driver, told a local ABC affiliate station: “If it were four years ago, it might have saved my son’s life. Anything that will save just one life matters because you don’t want people to go through what our family has been through.”
The new bill will now go to the governor to be signed into law. While IIDs won’t keep non-convicted drunk drivers from operating their vehicle, many families can at least breathe a sigh of relief that those with DUIs on their record won’t be able to hurt anyone else.
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