We have been discussing the different approaches states have taken to the use of ignition interlock devices. The devices are meant to keep drivers convicted of DWI from becoming repeat offenders. As we said, some states mandate interlocks for every person with a DWI, while other target only the most serious offenders. North Carolina is in the latter group, but the General Assembly may revisit bills from last session that would put the state in the “any and every DWI offender” category.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working with state legislatures to implement mandates in every state. The organizations believe that zero tolerance is the best approach, and statistics have shown that the interlock devices are more effective than, for example, license revocation.
On the other side of the issue is the American Beverage Institute, a national trade association of restaurants. The ABI believes that alcohol affects people differently, and that a DWI is not a one-size-fits-all crime. MADD’s mandate would put an interlock device in the car of the person whose blood alcohol level was just a whisper over 0.08 just as quickly as it would the person who downs five shots of whiskey before getting behind the wheel.
The shots of whiskey came into another ABI example. As technology advances, mandates could lead to auto manufacturers installing interlock devices as standard equipment on every vehicle. The ABI points out that the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, in development right now, would measure a driver’s BAC through the air in the passenger compartment, through the driver’s skin or eye movement, or even through the driver’s performance.
Going back to our five shots of whiskey — taken in rapid succession, those shots will not raise a BAC to 0.08 for a while. How, then, would the devices be calibrated? Would the car’s limit just get lower and lower? The ABI also wondered if the devices would be able to differentiate between the driver’s breath and the passenger’s if the sample is just taken from inside the car.
For MADD and the CDC, though, the objective is to save lives by keeping impaired drivers off the roads. If the ignition interlock can do that, as the research says it can, then states should use it.
Source: MSNBC, “Curbing drunken drivers: Should ignition interlock be required on every car?” Jim Gold, Jan. 5, 2012