More states are passing laws that mandate all drunk driving offenders to put an ignition interlock device in their vehicle at their expense. This is a change from past laws, as previously the devices were usually only required for second and subsequent offenses. Now many states are requiring ignition interlock devices for first DUI offenses.
Last month, the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force voted in support of a bill that would require the same in the Tarheel State.
According to state traffic statistics, alcohol related crashes were 4% of all crashes in North Carolina. But alcohol related deaths made up 28% of the 1441 crash fatalities in the state in 2016, which was a total of 402 people.
One expert told the task force that the typical convicted drunk driver drives under the influence at least 80 times before they are arrested.
The task force voted in favor of ignition interlocks for the first DUI because it has been shown across the country to make a difference in reducing drunk driving. When the driver gets into the car, they must blow into the device to start the car. the device can be set to not start the car if there is anything more than a very low amount of alcohol in the breath sample.
As the driver is driving, he is required to breathe into the device every few minutes to continue driving. The devices are difficult to cheat so they are effective. When an interlock device is installed, it must be calibrated each month. To prevent cheating, the device must be set to the pressure each person uses to breathe. Thus, it is difficult to cheat by having another person blow into it.
Today approximately 30 states require ignition interlock devices for people who have been convicted of DUI. But in North Carolina, fewer than 20% of DUI offenders have the devices. They are only required for repeat offenders, or for the first time offender who has a very high blood alcohol content.
The bottom line is this: In states where interlock devices are required for the first offense, deaths in alcohol related crashes dropped by 15%.
Our North Carolina drunk driving attorneys often represent the injured victims of drunk drivers, as well as surviving families who lost loved ones to drunk drivers. We are pleased that North Carolina may enact a law that requires ignition interlock devices for the first offense. We hope the new law will reduce the incidence of drunk driving in the state.