Sunday, September 20, 2020

MADD Calls on Florida Legislature

Ignition interlocks have stopped nearly 50,000 drunk driving attempts.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) testified in support of lifesaving ignition interlock laws for drunk driving offenders.

Kristen Allen, MADD Victim Services Manager in Northwest Florida, urged the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development to pass SB 1394 as it is currently written — to allow offenders to enter into twice-a-day alcohol testing or to wear an ankle bracelet in addition to use of an ignition interlock. MADD previously opposed an amendment that would allow other monitoring programs as a substitute for igniting interlocks.

Ignition interlocks are in-car breathalyzers that will not allow a vehicle to start if the alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. The devices save lives by taking the decision to drive drunk out of the hands of offenders. No other technology available today can physically stand between a drunk driver and his or her vehicle.

MADD believes all offenders arrested with an illegal .08 blood alcohol concentration or above should be required to use an ignition interlock for at least six months. Since October 2008 in Florida, ignition interlocks have been required for all repeat, first-time offenders with a .15 BAC or greater or with a child passenger in a vehicle. As a result, 49,000 attempts to drive drunk have been stopped, and 662,000 attempts to start a vehicle with a .025 BAC or more were stopped, according to a new MADD report released Feb. 10.

“As this report shows, our best defense against the dangerous decision to drink and drive is a technology that takes the decision out of the hands of the would-be drunk driver,” Allen said.

Studies show that ignition interlocks decrease repeat offenses by 67 percent when compared to license suspension alone. In addition, 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive after their license has been suspended.

Expanding the requirement to all offenders will save lives in Florida, where 685 lives were lost to drunk driving in 2014.

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