Thirty-eight states currently have laws on the books that require interlocks for some level of first-time offenders. Twenty-four states require a device for all first-time convicted drunk drivers. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania say it is now their turn to implement a mandatory interlock law.
House and Senate members gathered at a Capitol news conference on Tuesday, February 9th 2015 to call for the passage of legislation that would require all first-time offenders with blood-alcohol content of 1.0 or higher, along with other factors, to have an ignition interlock device installed which will not allow a car to start if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.
Alcohol-related traffic deaths have dropped by up to 33 percent in states that have interlock laws on the books, said Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, who has been trying to get similar laws passed for four years.
“Statistics show 70 percent of drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license,” Rafferty said. “With the interlock, that won’t happen because the car will not start.”
Currently, only repeat DUI offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, Rafferty said, but first-timers who don’t qualify lose their driver’s license for a year.
Rafferty’s bill won approval of the Senate Transportation Committee in January and now is awaiting action by the full Senate. An identical bill to his legislation was introduced in the House where it is expected to be the subject of hearing by the House Transportation Committee.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) has put this legislation at the top of its list pushing for all states to implement an ignition interlock law. Pennsylvania would be one of the next states to pass the new law.
M.A.D.D. National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, who attended the news conference, called on lawmakers to adopt this legislation.
“More than 10,000 people died in 2013 as a result of drunk driving and more than 290,000 were injured,” said Sheehey-Church. “Countless victims are left behind each year to rebuild their lives. The ripple effect is enormous. Yet drunk driving crashes are 100 percent preventable.”