Vice Squad
Friday, February 15, 2008
Ignition Interlocks

A new study analyzing New Mexico's experience with requiring first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their cars has been in the news the past couple of days. (Interlocks prevent the car from starting unless an alcohol breath test is passed.) The study shows, basically, that this interlock requirement, when it actually results in the devices being installed, is pretty effective at reducing the probability that a driver will be caught driving drunk again. The previous research base suggested that interlock mandates were effective for drivers who had multiple DUI convictions, but results were ambiguous concerning first-time DUI offenders.

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman notes how well-targeted the interlock mandate is:
It [the interlock mandate] also has benefits for the culprits. In most states, the standard method for stopping drunken drivers is to revoke their licenses so they aren't allowed to drive at all. Under this policy [interlocks], they may drive all they want as long as they're stone cold sober. It incapacitates the incorrigible while sparing the repentant. A canceled license, which lets the offender police his own conduct, does the opposite.
Will this new evidence be enough to convince one Arizona state representative to change his mind about interlock mandates for first-time DUI offenders...yet again?

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