Interlocks for All Offenders
In an effort to win public approval for the application of alcohol-sensing technology in all cars, MADD and NHTSA are attempting to normalize ignition interlock (in-car breathalyzer) technology by making its use more widespread. That’s why anti-alcohol activists have been trying to expand interlock laws to apply to even first-time offenders who were just one sip over the legal limit. NHTSA and MADD are readying the public for their plans to have universal application of ignition interlocks. To get public approval, they first need to normalize interlock technology in the minds of legislators and the public.
What is wrong with requiring all drunk drivers to install interlocks?
- The punishment should fit the crime. Interlocks should be reserved for the worst offenders—those who pose the biggest threat to traffic safety. The vast majority of first-offenders don’t commit their crime again. Somebody one sip over the limit shouldn’t be punished as harshly as an alcohol-abuser who drove drunk at twice the legal limit.
- Interlocks malfunction.
- Interlock manufacturers are pushing more widespread use of interlocks to increase their profits.
- Interlocks are an expensive burden on state and local governments. Interlocks for all offenders would cost the states approximately $276,000,000 in monitoring costs. This figure is based on a conservative estimate made by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) of $3 per day to monitor each offender for a minimum of six months and the over one million offenders convicted of a DUI offense in 2008.
The majority of state legislatures in the country have recognized these facts about interlocks and have chosen to require the devices for the worst offenders—high-BAC (blood alcohol concentration) and repeat-offenders. As of January of 2011, only 11 states have required interlock requirements for all offenders, while 27 correctly mandate the devices for high-BAC and repeat-offenders.
Yet, anti-alcohol activists continue to pressure legislators to pass interlock mandates for all offenders and even convinced members of Congress to include an interlock mandate in the proposed 2010 Highway Bill.
Neo-prohibitionists know that it is crucial for the public to get familiar with interlocks, so that the prospect of alcohol-sensors in all cars doesn’t seem far-fetched.
In calling for these harsh interlock laws, activists frequently turn to faulty studies and statistics. Learn why their favorite talking points should be taken with a grain of salt: