Federal officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced plans to issue regulations to motivate other states to pass tougher drunk driving laws. The announcement, which came Tuesday, followed upon the state of Virginia’s passage of a law requiring first-time drunk driving to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Ignition interlock devices, as our readers know, prevent a driver from operating their vehicle if too much alcohol is detected. Driving safety advocates have been pushing for wider use of the devices since federal data has shown that those with prior DUI convictions are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

The decision to pass laws requiring ignition interlock devices is, of course, up to states. Some states have been somewhat resistant to their use. Some states only require them for repeat offenders and those significantly over the legal limit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hope, though, that creating incentives for states will help widen the use of the devices so that everybody convicted of DUI will have to use them.

Ignition interlock devices, in addition to targeting repeat offenders and those with high blood alcohol levels, also seek to target males between the ages of 21 and 35, a group widely understood to be resistant to DUI crackdowns.

While there is no question that there is a need to reduce the amount of drunk driving on our roadways, it is critical that those charged with DUI receive all the protections due to them. In addition to the various things that can go wrong in DUI investigation, prosecutors in DUI cases are not concerned about the rights of defendants. Securing the help of a strong advocate is critical for defendants facing DUI charges.

Source: Washington Post, “Federal officials push for tougher state drunken-driving laws,” Ashley Halsey III, August 14, 2012