University of Maryland Survey Shows that Residents Don’t Support Interlocks for First-Time Offenders

WASHINGTON – Today, the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which represents over 150 Maryland restaurants, criticized the Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for pushing an ignition interlock mandate for all offenders when the majority of residents do not support such a measure.

This week, the University of Maryland released a survey on driving practices, attitudes, and concerns. The survey found that 86 percent believe that ignition interlocks (in-car breathalyzers) are an appropriate punishment for repeat drunk drivers, but less than half of Marylanders surveyed believe that interlocks are a good punishment for first-time offenders.
Yet, MADD has used the survey results to call for an interlock mandate for all offenders, even first-timers who were one sip over the limit. During the last legislative session, MADD pushed for a bill with this requirement, but it didn’t pass.
“MADD is trying to manipulate this new survey data to make it look like there is support for their misguided proposal,” said ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell. “But, the majority of Marylanders don’t support requiring ignition interlocks for first-time offenders.”
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the average BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of a drunk driver in a fatal car crash is 0.18% — twice the legal limit. In addition, a former MADD president has said that the drunk driving problem has been reduced to “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal.”But the bill MADD is calling for fails to target this dangerous population and instead will force first-time DUI offenders, even those just one sip over the legal limit, to install breathalyzers in their cars. This survey shows that Marylanders agree that interlocks should be reserved for the worst offenders.

MADD’s push for first-offender bills is part of a little-known movement that seeks to mandate ignition interlock technology in all cars as standard equipment in the United States.
“The truth is MADD is desperate to punish first-offenders with interlocks because they want to make the technology more ubiquitous and subtly encourage the public to be supportive of in-car alcohol-sensors,” Longwell continued. “Thus, efforts to put interlocks in all cars will be met with less public resistance.”
“The Maryland legislature should require interlocks for high-BAC and repeat-offenders, not all first-offenders,” she concluded.
Original Outlet: Array
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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