New law hopefully to curb DUIs
by Paisley Boston
Apr 30, 2014 | 1942 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A large number of lives have been lost as result of drunk drivers.

Lawmakers recently passed a bill that is aimed to combat or reduce the number of innocent lives taken by drunk drivers.

Individuals who have been convicted or cited for driving while under the influence will be required to have a DUI ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle at their expense.

"I supported the bill because we have some serious problems with our highways as far as safety. Some people are highly distracted while driving, whether it be phones or driving while under the influence," said Senator Willie Simmons.

"I personally believe that this is one way of implementing a policy that would keep the streets safer. If individuals do not have the discipline to avoid getting into cars and driving while under the influence this would device would prevent them from being able to drive," he added.

The law passed and was signed by the governor.

The law will go into effect in Mississippi at the beginning of July, giving judges the opportunity to mandate the installation of the device for first time DUI offenders. That means they wouldn't be able to start their ignition without blowing less than the legal alcohol limit.

The legal Blood Alcohol Concentration level is 0.08 percent for adults and 0.02 percent for minors.

The ignition interlock device will be installed on a motor vehicle's dashboard of cited or individuals convicted of DUI charges.

Before the vehicle's motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device; if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started.

At random times after the engine has been started, the ignition interlock device will require another breath sample.

If the breath sample isn't provided or the sample exceeds the ignition interlock's preset blood alcohol level, the device will log the event, warn the driver and then start up an alarm until the ignition is turned off, or a clean breath sample has been provided.

On average, interlocks are about $70-150 to install and about $60-80 per month for monitoring and calibration.

"When individuals drive while under the influence, they put the lives of others in danger. When individuals are impaired or under the influence, they will not be able to start the vehicle," said Simmons.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 51 minutes.

Any fatal crash involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher is considered to be an alcohol- impaired-driving crash, and fatalities occurring in those crashes are considered to be alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found states that passed interlock laws saw an average two-thirds reduction in repeat DUI offenses.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 20 states require or highly incentivize the use of an ignition interlock for every convicted offender.

"Based on the research that we have been given from other states that have been using this device, I believe that it will aid in the reduction of the total amount of lives lost due to drunk drivers," said Simmons.

Studies have shown that interlock devices decrease recidivism by about two-thirds while installed on the vehicle.

When removed, these rates tend to go back to normal.

The possibility of reoffending is much greater if tests are failed during the interlock period.

In most states, offenders still automatically get the device removed at the end of the specified period, even if they failed a test the day before.

"There are two things that could possibly lead to the issuing and installation of this device. One is when an individual has been convicted and cited for driving under the influence and the other is that if parents request for it to be installed in their vehicle or their teenager's vehicle. The device may also be installed if an individual desires to protect themselves or their spouse," he added.

The bill also establishes updated rules; regulations, fines and penalties for the continued enforcement of the ignition interlock system.

Simmons said those individuals who are required to have the interlock system would only be able to have the device installed at specific locations.