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Federal agency wants ignition interlock devices to be used more widely

In a recent post, we mentioned recent research published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over two-thirds of drunk-driving deaths in 2010 involved drivers that had a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher. That means 7,145 out of 10,228, or 79 percent.

In the NHTSA report, it is also stated that the most frequently recorded blood alcohol content among those that drank and drove in 2010 fatal crashes was .18, which is over twice the legal limit of.08 in every state. The number are, understandably, a cause for concern for safety advocates, who feel more needs to be done to prevent DUI and keep roadways safe.

As we have previously noted, one of the things being done is to promote ignition interlock devices, which prevent the operation of a vehicle by anyone having a blood alcohol content above a certain limit. The NHTSA reportedly has $20 million in highway funds to create an incentive program for states to make the devices more widespread. The devices are already mandated in 17 states for first time DUI offenders who wish to retain driving privileges.

Not every state has been keen to pass such laws, though. Louisiana, for its part requires ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. Upon a first or second conviction or entry of a plea of guilty or no contest, DUI offenders are required to have a functioning ignition interlock device with a restricted license. A first offense with a blood alcohol content of .20 or more is punished with at least 2 years license suspension, but a restricted license may be granted with the use of an ignition interlock device.

Ignition interlock devices, along with the other consequences of a DUI conviction, can be disruptive to one's life. It is critical that those facing DUI charges mount a solid defense and take advantage of their legal rights. Doing so can help ensure a more positive outcome in a case.

Source: Washington, "Most Drunk Driving Deaths Caused By Drivers With Twice Legal BAC Limit," Suzanne Kane, August 20, 2012

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