Missouri hopes to save lives with mandatory interlock device law

Missouri has enacted a law requiring all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, hoping to decrease the DUI death rate.

America has been plagued with an epidemic of drunk driving fatalities. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the 10,322 lives that were lost in drunk driving car accidents in 2012 showed an increase from the 9,878 people who died in DUI accidents the year before. Missouri had a similar increase in the number of people killed in accidents involving intoxicated drivers, from 25.5 percent of the total amount of traffic deaths in 2011 to 34 percent in 2012.

In an attempt to stop this increasing trend in drunk driving deaths, Missouri enacted a law in 2012 requiring all convicted DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. The law took effect in March 2014, and is expected to have a significant impact on the DUI fatality rate in the state.

What are ignition interlock devices?

According to the Missouri Department of Revenue, ignition interlock machines are small breath test devices that are installed directly into a vehicle's ignition system. Before the car will start, the driver must submit a breath sample by blowing into a tube connected to the device. The machine will then measure whether there is any alcohol present in the sample. If the sample has a blood alcohol content level of less than the preset level, which is 0.25 percent in Missouri, the car will start. The driver must then submit sporadic breath tests during the drive.

Why use IIDs?

While Missouri was the 18 th state in the nation to enact a law making it mandatory for all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices, there are now 22 states that have passed similar legislation, according to MADD. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that a first time DUI offender has driven while drunk an average of 80 times before being arrested by law enforcement. MADD also reports that 50 to 75 percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to operate vehicles on a suspended license, endangering the lives of other motorists on the road.

Are IIDs effective?

Interlock devices have shown to reduce the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent, according to the CDC. Not only do these devices deter drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, they literally disable the vehicle if the driver is impaired. MADD reports that many states that have implemented a mandatory interlock device law for all DUI offenders have seen a dramatic decrease in their DUI car accident and fatality rate, including:

•· Arizona, with a 43 percent decrease.

•· New Mexico, with a 38 percent decrease.

•· Oregon, with a 42 percent decrease.

•· Louisiana, with a 35 percent decrease.

MADD continues its ignition interlock device campaign, and encourages more states to pass this legislation.

Contact an attorney

People who make the decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated should be prepared to take responsibility for their actions, especially if their negligence has caused death or injury to another person. An attorney can help people who have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, property damage and any suffering you have experienced as a result of the accident.

Keywords: Missouri, DUI, car accident