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October 22, 2009

New York Times editorial calls for ignition locks for all drunk drivers

This morning's New York Times has this new editorial headlined "Progress on Drunken Driving."  Here are excerpts:

An enlightened measure signed this month by California’s Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will require those convicted of drunken driving — including first-time offenders — to install special devices that prevent cars from operating if the driver is drunk.  The large pilot program, which covers the 14 million people living in Los Angeles, Sacramento and two other counties, adds important momentum to the national campaign by Mothers Against Drunk Driving to expand the use of the life-saving technology.

Mandating the ignition-interlock devices for all drunken-driving offenders is smart safety policy. Once installed, the vehicle will not start until the driver first blows into the device and registers an alcohol level below the legal limit. Offenders who commute to work by car can keep their jobs, but they cannot drink and drive....

There are 11 states that require both first offenders and repeaters to use ignition-interlock devices for an assigned period. Most programs were enacted in the past two years, and the data are still building. But for California, where recidivists make up more than a quarter of annual drunken-driving arrests, the dramatic results logged in New Mexico are encouraging.  Between 2004 and 2008, New Mexico experienced a 65 percent drop in drunken-driving recidivism.  Drunken-driving fatalities in the state dropped 35 percent.

California’s large-scale embrace of interlocks should help embolden lawmakers in states like New York, where similar proposals face predictable, shortsighted opposition from the alcohol industry. Congress should also take action by conditioning federal highway money on requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunken-driving offenders.

Like the NY Times, I am a big fan of this technocorrections approach to tackling the pernicious problems of drunk driving.  I hope that there will be continued positive results in jurisdictions like New Mexico that have been at the forefront of this form of technocorrections.

Some related posts on sentencing drunk drivers:

October 22, 2009 at 09:33 AM | Permalink

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» Interlocks from Crime and Consequences Blog
The Reason Foundation calls California's new law on ignition interlocks for drunk drivers "idiotic." (See prior post.) The New York Times is in favor of it. Now I have to agree with the NYT. Ouch. (Hat tip: SLP)... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 22, 2009 11:15:53 AM

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