Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is expected to launch a new campaignâ€”in conjunction with a number of other groupsâ€”under which it will propose that alcohol-detection technology be used by drivers to disable their automobiles if they are found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit, The New York Times reports.
The first stage of the plan is to be backed by a national association of state highway representatives and car producers, according to the Times. The initial phase includes an effort to modify existing drunken-driving regulations in 49 states to include a mandate that would order people convicted on drunken-driving charges to install devices that shut down their vehicles if alcohol is detected on their breath, the Times reports.
The devices, dubbed ignition interlocks, are already used in several states for people whoâ€™ve been convicted of drunken driving on numerous occasions, according to the Times.
New Mexico last year passed a law that requires first-time drunken-driving offenders to employ ignition interlocks, the Times reports, and it attributed its 11.3 percent drop in related fatalities last year in part to the use of the devices, though the regulation wasnâ€™t official until June 17, 2005.
MADD and the other groups involved donâ€™t think the devices are a complete solution to the drunken-driving problem in the United States, as they can easily be deceived if a sober passenger or bystander blows into the Breathalyzer tube, but they do say the ignition interlocks will likely reduce the number of repeat offenses, the Times reports.
The groups eventually want every vehicle to include a non-obtrusive form of ignition interlock that would test ALL drivers for alcohol in a way that wouldnâ€™t impede normal actions, according to the Times.
Saab, the automobile maker, is testing a form of ignition interlock in Sweden that fits on a keychain and disables cars when too much alcohol is detected, the Times reports.
MADD Chief Executive Officer Chuck Hurley suggested that car insurers may eventually offer discounts and additional incentives to individuals who employ such technologies, according to the Times.
The parties are also expected on Monday to detail a new initiative with the Department of Transportation aimed at boosting enforcement of drunken-driving laws and related penalties, the Times reports.
Officials within the Bush administration will also fund future research into the possibility of using technology to disable the cars of people with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit, though it hasnâ€™t said to what extent it would back a widespread requirement like the one in New Mexico, according to the Times.
Mark my words, road block checkpoints will be another hot issue this legislative session.