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July 20, 2012

Ignition lock law in Kansas seeming responsible for huge drop in DUI fatalities

This local article from Kansas, headlined "DUI fatalities drop sharply in wake of recent law," provides additional and dramatic support for my long-standing belief that any and everyone seriously committed to saving innocent victims from deadly criminal activity ought to be vigorous and vocal supporters of ignition locks as a punishment for drunk driving.   Here is the report on amazing data from Kansas:

When lawmakers passed legislation in 2011 requiring an ignition interlock for those convicted of their first drunken driving offense, one of the main goals was cutting down on alcohol-related traffic fatalities. After a year, it appears the law is working, according to preliminary data released by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Between July 1, 2011 — when the state’s new DUI ignition interlock law went into effect — and June 30, 2012, the state recorded 59 alcohol-related traffic fatalities, compared with 125 and 137, respectively, for the previous two years during the same timeframe....

Kansas had lagged behind the country in reducing alcohol-related fatalities, seeing increases in recent years as numbers dropped across the country. Alcohol-related traffic fatalities averaged 116 a year between 2000 and 2010 in the state.

Kansas drivers with a DUI conviction now must install an ignition interlock — which requires drivers to blow into a device to show their blood-alcohol level is under .04, half the legal limit — before their vehicle will start. Under the new law, first-time DUI offenders must use an ignition interlock for a year; drivers with multiple DUI convictions must use it longer.

Kansas joined 14 others states in enacting a first-time offender ignition interlock law. Most states have some form of ignition interlock law, but some only apply to repeat DUI offenders.

Pete Bodyk, traffic safety manager for KDOT, was also on the commission, and cautioned that the preliminary numbers will probably go up some, but he still expects the data to show a significant decline in fatalities since the law was enacted. While there’s no way to know for sure if the drop in alcohol-related fatalities was a direct result of the new law, Bodyk said “that’s the only thing that’s new. ... Hopefully we’ll see a trend.”

July 20, 2012 at 08:00 PM | Permalink


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Only technology has increased safety. Nothing the lawyer does makes any difference except to make money for the government. Isn't it time to acknowledge that eternal fact.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 20, 2012 10:16:21 PM

But lawyers can, and often do, force use of some technologies.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 21, 2012 5:33:53 AM

I acknowledge the rule of law is an essential utility product, as important as water or electricity. Turn it off, and you have Fallujah, where one spent all day on personal survival and doing nothing else.

If the rule of law were the electricity, it would be on 2 hours a day for the rich, and 2 minutes a day for the poor. There would be surges of excessive law for the rich that would destroy the appliances. Welcome to the Fallujah Electric Service, the self-regulated utility. The profession needs oversight, which would actually be help and not punishment, from an utility commission to improve the service, bring down cost, and end all those blackouts.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 21, 2012 7:35:06 AM

I support ignition interlocks on the second offense, but not on the first. However, there's a bit of cognitive dissonance in the Kansas numbers: If the law took effect July 1 of last year, most probationers during the period covered by the data did not fall under the ignition interlock law. It would take a year to fully phase in.

Also, has anyone ever seen a study to determine what proportion of DWI deaths involved drivers who were on probation at the time of the accident? I suspect it's a quite small proportion, which makes me wonder how such a large death decline could be attributed to probation conditions.

For those reasons, I'm unsurprised by the (under-emphasized) caveat which "cautioned that the preliminary numbers will probably go up some" and that there's "no way to know for sure" if Doug's "dramatic" spin is in fact true. There is absolutely no way a statistically valid conclusion can be drawn this soon after the law passed.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jul 21, 2012 11:04:38 AM

Technology on the horizon for all cars, but existing today.

The car is weaving for whatever reason, sleepiness, intoxication, advanced age, too young an age, mechanical trouble. The car finds a shoulder, pulls over, and shuts off.

On the new Infiniti, an object is in the backup camera. The car brakes and stops on its own.

The driverless Google car had one accident causing a five car pile up, near Google headquarters. However, it was in manual mode with a human driver at the time.

Ignition locks will likely not be necessary.

The rules of the road continue to have a Medieval, criminal procedure view of crashes as having a chain of causation, and scapegoating a defendant. Crashes continue at an appalling rate. Meanwhile, air crashes have virtually disappeared.

The view in air crashes is that they are caused by a convergence of factors, usually around 12. The prevention of any one of those factors would prevent the entire crash. So improvements are instituted in all aspects of these factors and in the system. We need a cluster analysis in car crashed as well.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 21, 2012 11:41:53 AM

If such devices do save lives, they will save a lot more lives than stopping mass murderers like the one recently. But, they get less attention.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 22, 2012 2:43:02 PM

I for one am sick of these neo prohibitionist MADD broads. Enough is enough.

MADD needs to shut the fuck up and leave people alone.

You should only be in serious trouble if you hurt someone..

Fuck MADD.

Posted by: Angry Bob | Sep 6, 2012 12:05:55 AM

The content on your website never confuses me

Posted by: dui penalties | Sep 10, 2012 5:43:18 AM

What is the argument against ingition locks? You can pick the Kansas data apart, but what do we have to lose in implementing ingition locks regardless of how modest the gain is?

Posted by: Kevin Pitts | Sep 16, 2012 11:30:48 AM

Lawyers, as guardians of the law, play a vital role in the preservation of society. The fulfillment of this role requires an understanding by lawyers of their relationship with and function in our legal system. A consequent obligation of lawyers is to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

Posted by: Armando Nevarez | Jan 7, 2013 1:24:43 AM

I think this is a good punishment for people who are habitually driving drunk, but not for the first offense.

Posted by: Park Place Infiniti | May 16, 2013 3:02:16 PM


I agree. Usually it is not the first offense that ignition locks are mandated. It is usually when someone has:

Repeat convictions (second or third offenses)
High BAC levels
BAC of over 0.15
BAC of over 0.08
DUI with a minor (under 16 years old) in the car
After reinstatement of a driver's license

Posted by: Charlie Naegle | Jun 17, 2013 7:12:57 PM

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