Merits of laws requiring mandatory ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers

Nadine Lewis of the National Association of Ignition Interlock Providers appeared on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning to discuss a false and misleading ad campaign about ignition interlock devices paid for by a trade group representing tavern owners.

On Tuesday’s broadcast of “Fox and Friends,” Nadine participated in a debate with American Beverage Institute spokeswoman Sarah Longwell about the merits of laws requiring mandatory ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers. The American Beverage Institute shamelessly opposes legislation that has resulted in a 22 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities in New Mexico since its implementation five years ago. California Assembly Bill 2784 and other ignition interlock laws are not about prohibition – they promote public safety. ABI is simply concerned with alcohol sales in bars, not whether their patrons end up behind bars.

The full-page ad paid for by the American Beverage Institute appeared in USA Today and exploited the personal tragedies of actress Lindsay Lohan by using the mug shot from her last DUI arrest. The text read that “ignition interlock devices are a good idea” for Lohan, but “a bad idea for us.” The “us” in AB 2784 are drivers who have already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they cannot be trusted to drink and drive responsibly. First-time offenders are really just repeat offenders who finally got caught! The average first-offender has driven under the influence hundreds of time prior to a first arrest.

The ad was in response to groundbreaking legislation passed in four states and proposed in almost 25 others which would mandate all DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices. The American Beverage Institute’s claim that “activists now want to put one in every car in America” is patently false. Responsible drivers don’t get convicted of DUI, and won’t be impacted by the new laws. We don’t give convicted drug dealers the keys to the pharmacy, so why would we give convicted drunk drivers keys to a lethal weapon that killed 17,000 Americans last year alone?

The ABI has been consistent in its attempts to deceive the American public. When they attacked a California DMV study by distorting the results, the DMV quickly issued a press release which said, “…The ABI press release quotes our report out of context, presents incorrect information AND misstates the findings of our report so completely that the tenor of the ABI release is seriously inconsistent with what the report actually states.” (DMV press release, March 21, 2005)

Miss Longwell claims that the ABI supports interlock legislation for offenders whose BAC is .15 percent or higher at the time of arrest. If this is true, why did she not testify on its behalf the day it was proposed since she was in Sacramento at the time? This is just another misleading statement in an attempt to divert attention away from the facts. Ignition Interlock technology saves lives and reduces recidivism by 65 percent, and that is why the nation’s top safety official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nicole Nason, supports the widespread use of ignition interlocks.

Nadine will be speaking about interlock technology and programs in Eugene, Oregon on Thursday, May 15th. For more information about ignition interlock programs and legislation, please contact Nadine Lewis at 1-800-774-0646.