Ignition interlock laws protect the public and stop drunk driving
When Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® in the fall of 2006, one state, New Mexico, had an all-offender ignition interlock law. Since then, 23 states have passed all-offender ignition interlock legislation. The Campaign continues to be the nation’s blueprint to eliminate drunk driving, and much of its success is due to passage of strong DUI laws in all 50 states. Drunk driving deaths are down more than 24 percent since 2006 and, while much has been accomplished, much more must be done.
“As we continue to sound the drumbeat that high-visibility enforcement and ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers are the best ways to stop drunk driving, it is important to recognize that this issue continues to be a problem across the nation,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.
So far this year, MADD has successfully passed major legislation aimed at stopping drunk driving. By sharing the devastating stories of drunk driving deaths and injuries, MADD continues to put a face to this violent crime. During the past few months, MADD has worked closely with local DUI victims to educate, inform and speak about the importance of effective drunk driving laws in every state. Today, nearly half of the nation (24 states) has passed an all-offender ignition interlock law.
Already in 2014, four states have passed all-offender interlock legislation, eight states have improved legislation by closing loopholes, and four states are still working to pass bills.
Alabama, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Delaware are the states that have passed all-offender interlock legislation in 2014, becoming the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th states to do so since 2006.
Alabama passed SB 319, authored by Senator Bill Holtzclaw and Representative Allen Farley, to require ignition interlocks for all offenders. Leadership from both the Senate and House were instrumental in the passage of this legislation.
In Mississippi, over the past three years, MADD volunteers helped advocate for an all-offender interlock law. One of these volunteers, Etoile Frazier Patrick, advocated for the new law in honor of her 19-year-old son who, along with his 18-year-old girlfriend, were struck and killed by a drunk driver. Leadership from Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn and Representatives Andy Gipson and Kevin Horan proved to be instrumental in the passage of HB 412, which requires interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
In New Hampshire, the House and Senate reached a deal to require interlocks for all offenders by enacting HB 496, authored by House Majority Leader Stephen Shurtleff. The legislation is pending the Governor’s signature.
In Delaware, MADD National President Jan Withers met with lawmakers in May, including Senate Majority Leader David McBride, to discuss the need for stronger drunk driving laws in the state and testified in support of HB 212. With the leadership and guidance of House bill sponsors Helene Keeley, Steve Smyk and Senator McBride, on June 30th the bill passed, making Delaware the 24th state to pass legislation to require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. This legislation is pending the Governor’s signature.
Significant improvements to ignition interlock laws, that will no doubt save lives and protect the public, were passed in South Carolina, Connecticut, Kansas, West Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island and Maryland.
In South Carolina, one of the toughest states in which to pass drunk driving legislation and a state with one of the worst drunk driving problems in the United States, passed Emma’s Law (S 137) to require ignition interlocks for all repeat drunk drivers and offenders who had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater. This legislation was sponsored by Senator Joel Lourie, along with co-sponsors Larry Martin, Brad Hutto and Ronnie Cromer. Representatives Eddie Tallon, Kit Spires and Rick Quinn helped push the bill through the House. David Longstreet, Emma’s father, and the entire Longstreet family, along with South Carolina volunteers led by MADD volunteer public policy liaison Laura Hudson, teamed-up and worked tirelessly on this legislation. Emma’s Law was signed into law on April 29th.
In Connecticut, the legislature passed a bill making major improvements to the state’s ignition interlock law. Connecticut had an all-offender interlock law, but they weren’t enforcing it for those offenders caught for the first-time. This bill fixes that; more than 6,500 first-time offenders will now have to install ignition interlock devices. The leadership of Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Senator Eric Coleman and Representative Gerry Fox and co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee Representatives Dan Fox and Fred Smith was instrumental in the passage of this legislation.
In Kansas, thanks to the leadership of volunteer chapter president Chris Mann, lawmakers improved their interlock law. In 2011, Kansas lawmakers enacted an all-offender interlock law, but the law had a sunset (or end) date of 2015. Luckily, lawmakers under the leadership of Representative Rubin and Senator Knox, enacted legislation HB 2427 making their all-offender interlock law permanent. Since the law went into effect in 2011, drunk driving deaths have dropped by 30 percent.
In West Virginia, lawmakers enacted SB 434 improving the state’s all-offender interlock law. Sponsored by Senator Robert Beach, the new law allows offenders to immediately go an interlock following a DUI. The new law is estimated to lead to additional 2,500 interlocks installed each year.
Indiana lawmakers enacted legislation, HB 1279, to require interlocks for repeat offenders and allow judges to order the devices for first-time offenders. Representative Cindy Kirchhofer authored HB 1344 which was incorporated in the amended version of HB 1279, authored by Representative Jud McMillin and sponsored by Senator R Michael Young, which also establishes a statewide regulatory framework for ignition interlocks that created some challenge for the passage of the bill. Now in place, HB 1279 provides the structure and context for MADD to come back to advocate for a true all-offender legislation.
In Florida, lawmakers expanded the existing interlock law, which was for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater and repeat offenders. HB 7005/SB 1272, prepared by the Transportation Committee, allows judges to order interlocks for first-time offenders with a BAC of .08 to .14 in lieu of a 10-day vehicle impoundment. The new law also requires a legislative study committee to study all-offender interlock legislation and issue a report to the legislature before the 2015 session.
Rhode Island passed legislation S 2231A and H 8296, sponsored by Senator Susan Sosnowski and Representative Raymond E. Gallison, Jr., to require interlocks for all repeat and first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater.
Maryland enacted HB 1015, by Sam Arora and Luke Clippinger, requiring ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of drunk driving with a child passenger in a vehicle.
There is still pending all-offender interlock legislation in Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. MADD is hopeful that these lifesaving laws will advance.
Ohio: Annie’s Law (HB 469), sponsored by Representatives Terry Johnson and Gary Scherer, has gained momentum with a press conference that was held on July 10th and the formation of a drunk driving coalition of key stakeholders. Annie’s Law is pending a fall vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey: H 1368, by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, and companion legislation S 385, by Senator Nicholas Scutari, are pending a hearing and vote in the Senate Budget Committee with possible consideration this fall.
North Carolina: There are various bills pending in this short session, which started last month and ends in July, that would require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
Pennsylvania: SB 1036, by Senator John Rafferty, Jr., would require interlocks for all repeat and first-time offenders with a BAC of .10 or greater. SB 1036 is pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee and may receive consideration in the fall.
“As MADD continues to advocate for more effective DUI laws across the nation, we ask Americans to join us and urge your representatives to introduce lifesaving legislation that will protect the public and reduce drunk driving deaths in your state and across the nation,” continued Withers.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.