How Ignition Interlocks Became a Cornerstone in MADD’s ‘End Drunk Driving’ Mission

Smart Start Ignition Interlock Device Attends AIIPA Conference

Did you know that drunk driving is still the number one cause of death on the road? Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been fighting these preventable crashes since 1980, and their efforts have made a big difference on our roadways.

MADD has been instrumental in making drunk driving laws stronger in the U.S., including the current .08 per se law in all states, zero tolerance for drivers who are minors and popularizing the ‘designated driver’ phrase.

One component in MADD’s campaign that has been lowering drunk driving deaths is the Ignition Interlock Device. An Ignition Interlock is a small testing device that’s installed in DUI offenders’ vehicles or voluntary users’ vehicles. The vehicle won’t start unless the user’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) is below the device’s pre-set fail limit, which is usually about .02 or .03, but varies in every state.

Ignition interlocks are the only prevention technology that MADD supports to end drunk driving because they physically stop someone from getting behind the wheel intoxicated when it is installed.

How Ignition Interlocks Became a Big Factor in MADD’s Campaign

MADD reviewed the data and research behind the effectiveness of Ignition Interlocks before they made the decision to support them as the technology in their campaign to eliminate drunk driving in 2006. MADD states that Ignition Interlocks should be used as an additional penalty and sanction for drunk driving offenders with a BAC of .08 or more.

When they launched the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006, all-offender Ignition Interlock laws were one of the initiatives in their three-prong approach.

Why all offenders? Because studies show that first-time DUI offenders have driven drunk at least 80 times before their first arrest.

The Status on Ignition Interlock Laws in the States

As of February 2018, 30 states, D.C. and four counties in California have an all-offender Ignition Interlock law in place.

New Mexico was one of the first states to enact an all-offender Ignition Interlock law, and as a result, they saw their drunk driving deaths drop dramatically. When their all-offender laws took effect, West Virginia, Arizona and Louisiana saw the same outcome. In Arizona, drunk driving fatalities decreased by 50 percent since their all-offender law passed in 2007.

Ignition Interlocks also reduce recidivism by about two-thirds when installed, which indicates the devices reform users’ behavior during its use and after removal.

Eight Key Components to an All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law

MADD says that implementing these eight components will increase Ignition Interlock installations, reduce repeat offenses and save lives.

  • Device circumvention penalties
  • Indigent fund (financial assistance with the device program)
  • Ignition Interlocks for first-time refusals
  • Ignition Interlock available upon arrest
  • Compliance-based removal (allowing device to be removed with no alcohol violations on device)
  • Monitoring Ignition Interlock users
  • Administrative component (users can only be fully relicensed if they demonstrate successful use of the device during a license suspension)
  • Educate stakeholders and the public

Before Ignition Interlocks, license revocations and suspensions were the preferred penalty to a drunk driving offense. However, three out of four people continue to drive on a suspended license from a DUI conviction. There’s no way to stop them from drinking and driving again.

When an Ignition Interlock is installed, the driver must blow into the device before starting their vehicle. The device is a fool-proof way for offenders to not start their vehicles intoxicated by alcohol, a more effective means than suspended or revoked licenses.

Ignition Interlocks are a Safety Tool Getting Clients Back on the Road

MADD says Ignition Interlocks are the best proven countermeasure to drunk driving, and multiple studies and national organizations such as the CDC and AAA support their stance. Ignition Interlocks maintain safety on the road and support the user in getting back to their everyday routine while enforcing sober driving.

With Ignition Interlocks stopping intoxicated users from starting their vehicles 2.3 million times and counting, we can only see an even safer future on our roads. And MADD’s ultimate mission to end drunk driving for good will get closer and closer.

Need an Ignition Interlock?

Smart Start has helped more than a million people get back on the road. We offer a knowledgeable, friendly team during your program and a reliable device that meets state standards. Call today to schedule your appointment at (800) 831-3299 or fill out our online form.