Montgomery, AL – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is urging the Alabama House to take a stand to save lives on Alabama roads. In a letter to the House Members, MADD requests lawmakers to support and advance HB 381 authored by Representative Allen Farley; HB 381is the companion bill to SB 319 by Senator Holtzclaw. This legislation will implement Alabama’s current ignition interlock law and expand the use of ignition interlocks for all first-time offenders with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater who seek driving privileges during a license suspension.
“MADD supports HB 381/SB319 as it will protect the residents of Alabama from drunk drivers,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “Ignition interlocks are a key component of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® and an effective countermeasure in our fight against drunk driving.”
In Alabama since 2011, ignition interlocks are required for all repeat and first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater. However, the law has yet to be implemented. HB 381/SB 319 will help implement the current law and allows any first-time convicted drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .14 to choose either a 90 day license suspension with no driving privileges, or be restricted to operating a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock for six months.
An interlock costs the offender around $2.50 a day to lease from a vendor. Under current law, offenders unable to afford an interlock have one provided at a lesser cost. Non-indigent offenders must pay administrative fees to offset costs to the state and to defray the costs of these devices for poorer offenders.
MADD believes ignition interlocks and HB 381/SB 319 is not soft on crime. The measure is a strong deterrent to drunk driving behavior as ignition interlocks separate drinking from driving and teaches sober driving—which license suspension alone does not accomplish. Ignition interlocks for all offenders is an effective countermeasure to reduce drunk driving recidivism and more effective than license suspension. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), requiring or highly incentivizing interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers reduces drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. Additionally, research shows that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended driver’s license.
Currently, 20 states have similar laws to HB 381/SB 319 requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including all first-time offenders, who seek driving privileges following a DUI. “First-time” offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers. Conservative estimates show that a first-time convicted DUI offender has driven drunk at least 80 times prior to being arrested.
HB 381/SB 319, which calls for ignition interlocks, allows convicted drunk drivers to continue driving, while teaching sober driving and allowing interlocked offenders to keep their jobs, keep providing for their family and at the same time, keep the public safe and lead to safer roads in Alabama.
HB 381/SB 319 will save lives in Alabama as similar laws have in other states. Since New Mexico's interlock law was implemented in 2005, drunk driving fatalities are down by 38 percent. Since Arizona and Louisiana implemented their interlock law in 2007, drunk driving deaths have decreased by 43 and 35 percent, respectively. In Oregon, as a result of their 2008 interlock law, DUI deaths are down 42 percent.
“Through the efforts of MADD, drunk driving is now socially unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is still tolerated,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “HB 381/SB319 will increase the use of ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and help prevent repeat offenses, since ignition interlocks are proven to be more effective than license revocation,” continued Withers.
For more information on interlocks, please visit http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/ignition-interlocks/.