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Ignition interlock devices get a good word from MADD

According to a recent Fox Business article, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing state lawmakers to enact measures mandating the use of ignition interlock devices for first time offenders.

At present, only a small proportion of convicted DUI offenders are required to use the devices. Most states use them, but only require their use under certain circumstances, such as when the offender has a high blood alcohol content, or a previous conviction.

Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington are among the states which currently require ignition interlock devices for every convicted drunken driver.

While some drivers have attempted to outwit the devices by having others blow air into the device for them and other means, the technology continues to improve. The devices now require drivers to retest periodically, and will activate a vehicle's horn and lights if the drier fails.

Ignition interlock devices are not covered under car insurance policies, and are not discounted either. Private companies may charge up to $200 for installation, as well as monthly fees between $50 and $100.

Penalties for DUI vary a lot from state to state, and include license suspension and jail time, vehicle seizures and special license plates. Lawmakers in states adopting ignition interlock devices hope that making them mandatory will allow drivers to obtain the help they need to overcome their problem while reducing their risk to other drivers.

As more and more states adopt these measures, we will see whether how effective they are.

Source: Fox Business, "Drive Drunk if Your Car Won't," Marilyn Lewis, December 9, 2011.

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