Alcohol Ignition Interlock Legislation

By: Anthony Fontanelle
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) united with state Rep. Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis) last Thursday to publicize a vital piece of anti-drunk driving legislation. The bill which is ponsored by Rep. Staskunas, calls for convicted drunk drivers to put in an alcohol ignition interlock on their vehicles as a terms of probation. This verified technology and one of the most highly-required would be necessary for every person with an earlier drunk driving record and for anybody convicted of driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .16 or above.

"Drunk driving is a serious threat to the safety and well-being of everyone in Wisconsin - a threat that this legislation requiring interlocks for convicted drunk drivers will significantly reduce. By stopping these drivers from re-committing their crimes, we'll be saving lives and preventing countless injuries," says Representative Staskunas.

According to , 305 citizens died in drunk-driving crashes - 42 percent of all traffic fatalities - and over 5,600 people were severely injured in alcohol-related crashes two years ago. Similarly moderating statistics specify the average BAC of drunk drivers in Wisconsin is a shocking .17; an astounding record which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.

"Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of being ranked as the worst state in the country when it comes to the number of drunk driving fatalities. We need to continue treating this serious crime as a fully preventable one - the technology and resources to save lives in Wisconsin exist and need to be put to full use," says Kari Kinnard, executive director of MADD Wisconsin.

The alcohol ignition interlock is among the latest innovative today. It is an advanced breath test device connected to a car's ignition system. While installed on the vehicle, its effectiveness is up to 90 percent efficient in avoiding reiterate offenses by convicted drunk drivers. Drivers must first blow into the device when he or she desires to start his or her vehicle. However, the vehicle will not start if the driver has alcohol in his or her system. Present Wisconsin law does not necessitate interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, but adjudicators have the choice to entail interlocks upon a second OWI offense.

Research reveals that those convicted of drunk driving for the first time have driven drunk over 87 times earlier than their first arrest. Studies also estimate that 50 to 75 percent of drunk drivers whose licenses are suspended continue to drive their vehicles.

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