Ignition Interlock Saves Lives

New MADD 50-state report shows 1.77 million drunk driving attempts prevented

Annapolis, MD (Feb. 12, 2016) – MADD has announced conclusive evidence that in-car breathalyzers, or ignition interlocks, are keeping drunk drivers off U.S. roadways and saving lives. In a new 50-state report, MADD found ignition interlocks have stopped more than 1.77 million would-be drunk drivers across the country since states first passed ignition interlock laws.

“MADD knows ignition interlocks save lives, and they could save even more lives if every offender is required to use the device after the first arrest,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, whose 18-year-old son Dustin was killed by an underage drunk and drugged driver. “The fact that so many people have attempted to drive impaired – even after being caught and ordered to use an ignition interlock – tells us that we must put technology between all offenders and their cars.”

Every state requires ignition interlock for some drunk driving offenders, but MADD urges all 50 states to require ignition interlocks for all offenders following a drunk driving offense. Twenty-five states have all-offender laws now.

MADD’s report shows how many times ignition interlocks have prevented drunk driving in each state. It also offers a call to action for each state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and a guide to improve existing all-offender laws.

“This report is a wakeup call to states that don’t have all-offender ignition interlock laws,” Sheehey-Church said. “MADD calls on the remaining states to pass stronger laws this year. States like Maryland, Florida, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Residents and visitors in those states deserve the same protection offered in states with strong ignition interlock laws – such as Texas, Arizona, West Virginia and New Mexico. If your state is not one of the 25 with an all-offender law, ask your Legislators why.”

At a news conference in Annapolis, Md., MADD announced the report findings and dedicated the report to Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed in December by a suspected repeat drunk driver. Leotta’s father, Rich, held up an interlock device as he called for the Maryland General Assembly to finally pass an all-offender ignition interlock law.

“If the state of Maryland had already mandated this lifesaving technology for all convicted drunk drivers, this collision likely would not have happened, and Noah would be alive today,” Rich Leotta said. “The state of Maryland must do better. Our nation must do better.”

Maryland Senator Jamie Raskin and Delegate Ben Kramer are authoring “Noah’s Law” in honor of the fallen officer. Their previous attempts to pass an all-offender law have received widespread support among legislators but have been blocked by committee leaders.

All-offender ignition interlock laws are among MADD’s top legislative priorities, as part of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® launched in 2006. At the time, only New Mexico had an all-offender ignition interlock law. Since the start of the Campaign, drunk driving fatalities have dropped by 22 percent. Sheehey-Church called for more aggressive efforts to end the completely preventable crime of drunk driving by passing all-offender laws in every state.

“We know that ignition interlocks save lives,” Sheehey-Church said. “MADD will keep fighting to protect the daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters from this violent crime with the best countermeasures available. And we won’t stop until we create a nation of No More Victims.”

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD changed American culture by introducing the “designated driver” in 1986 and related red ribbon awareness campaign Tie One On For Safety® now in its 30th year. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is marking its 10th anniversary and reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent since its launch. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, providing a service every four minutes through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Power of Parents® and Power of Youth® programs reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting madd.org.

SOURCE: Mothers Against Drunk Driving