Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a 50-state report on ignition interlocks, arguing that the technology should be installed on the car of every convicted drunk driver. Sarah Longwell, Managing Director of the American Beverage Institute, responded to the report:

While interlocks are a valuable tool to stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, MADD’s single-minded approach to reducing recidivism is misguided. MADD’s report fails to account for the fact that expanding state ignition interlock mandates is extremely expensive and places a significant burden on limited stateparole and monitoring budgets—a major problem considering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates only 15-20 percent of offenders comply withinterlock mandates. That’s why the American Beverage Institute encourages states to reserve interlocks for the high-blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and repeat drunk drivers who cause more than two-thirds of all drunk driving fatalities.

While MADD’s report dismisses the effectiveness of alternatives to all-offender interlock laws, the same day MADD released its report, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) released a study showing South Dakota’s innovative 24/7 Sobriety Program was linked to overall reduced mortality rates in the state from all causes—not just drunk driving. A separate peer-reviewed study of the state’s program showed 24/7 Sobriety reduced recidivism for both drunk driving and domestic violence.

Instead of expanding interlock requirements to include low-BAC, first-time drunk drivers, states should focus their resources on the most dangerous drunk drivers. This means investing more resources to ensure the highest risk offenders actually comply with interlock orders, extending the length of time these interlocks remain on repeat drunk drivers’ vehicles, and adopting a 24/7 Sobriety Program as an alternative to interlocks.


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