The editorial board criticized the leniency of punitive license suspensions and cited “many drivers with suspended licenses keep driving” as reason to support interlock ignition devices. But interlock penalties are subject to the same rampant circumvention as license suspensions: Nationally, only 15 to 20 percent of offenders comply with interlock orders, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The problem stems from the extensive (and expensive) follow-up necessary to ensure each offender installs the device and regularly submits to interlock maintenance, as required every 30 days in Maryland.

Government statistics show roughly 70 percent of alcohol-related fatalities are caused by drivers with blood alcohol levels of 0.15 or higher, nearly twice the 0.08 legal limit for driving. One-size-fits-all interlock mandates pull limited state resources from providing the most dangerous drivers — repeat offenders and those with very high blood alcohol content — with constant supervision.

In theory, universal ignition interlock requirements might seem like a “no-nonsense approach” to drunken driving. But in practice, “real reform is in the details” — and on all-offender interlock mandates, the details just don’t add up.

Sarah Longwell, Washington

The writer is managing director of the American Beverage Institute.

Original Outlet: The Washington Post
In Depth on the Issue

Ignition Interlocks

ABI supports the use of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders and first-time offenders with BAC levels of .15 or higher, but opposes laws requiring low-BAC first-time offenders to install interlocks. States already lack the resources to ensure that the most dangerous drunk drivers — who are responsible for the vast…
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