By Jeff Gilbert

ARLINGTON, VA — (WWJ) There’s new evidence that devices that keep drunken drivers from starting their cars are effective.

The Insurance Institute for Highway safety looked at a Washington state law that requires the devices—called interlocks—be placed on vehicles of first time offenders.

The study found a 12 percent reduction in repeat offenses. However, since the Washington law was new, and being ignored by many offenders, the study’s author says the real reduction could be in the fifty percent range.

INTERVIEW: WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert talks with IIHS VP Anne McCartt.

“This suggests that things like interlocks are really important,” says Anne McCartt, the Institute’s senior vice president for research and the study’s main author. “It’s not uncommon for people to have a repeat offense, and sometimes quite quickly after the first.”

McCartt says nine percent of people convicted of Driving Under the Influence, are re-arrested for another offense within two years.

Michigan does not have a law requiring interlocks. Fifteen states do. This study could be ammunition for other states to pass similar laws.

“We are seeing more and more states beginning to extend interlock laws,” says McCartt. “And not just for repeat offenders, but for first offenders.”

The Insurance Institute says while drunken driving deaths fell a lot during the 80’s and early 90’s, there hasn’t been much progress since then. Legislation pending in congress would encourage states to require interlocks for drunken drivers, by linking highway funds to the issue.

“This report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides strong validation for MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and our efforts to require all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device,” says Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “We will continue to work at the state and federal levels to ensure that all Americans are protected by comprehensive and lifesaving interlock laws.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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