Prior to the advancement of ignition interlock technology, license revocations were the favored response to a drunk driving offense. Today, however, studies show that 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive even after losing their license. The safest way to ensure that these drivers are sober when they get behind the wheel is to monitor their driving behavior — and stop them if they attempt to start a vehicle after drinking.
Unfortunately, people continue to make the dangerous — and often tragic — decision to drink and drive. Short of incarceration, which costs taxpayers more than $100 per day, the only physical barrier to prevent an offender from driving drunk again is an ignition interlock. Any other program aimed at treating, monitoring and rehabilitating drunk driving offenders should include an ignition interlock component to ensure public safety while offenders address changing their drunk driving behavior.
ALL-OFFENDER LAWS TARGET DRUNK DRIVERS, NOT SOCIAL DRINKERS.
FIRST-TIME OFFENDERS ARE SERIOUS OFFENDERS. RESEARCH INDICATES FIRST-TIME OFFENDERS HAVE DRIVEN DRUNK AT LEAST 80 TIMES BEFORE THE FIRST ARREST. (CDC)
PREVENTING REPEAT OFFENSES
The overwhelming majority of studies on ignition interlocks relate to recidivism. Because ignition interlocks help reform behavior, the preventive effects continue even after the device is removed. Some key findings: • Fifteen peer-reviewed studies compiled by the CDC show a dramatic reduction — 67 percent — in recidivism comparing offenders with ignition interlocks to offenders whose licenses were suspended. Even after the interlock is removed, offenders who used them are 39 percent less likely to reoffend (Marques 2010). • A study of New Mexico’s ignition interlock device program found that recidivism rates were reduced by 75 percent for offenders in the program compared to non-participating offenders. The study found that alcohol-involved crashes declined 31 percent between 2002 and 2007. (Roth) • According toaWashingtonState study, recidivism among “simple” first offenders dropped by 12 percent two years after they removed the device. Simple offenders were those with a .08 to .14 BAC. The authors noted that only one-third of the
simple offenders installed an interlock. Had all of these offenders installed an interlock, recidivism could have been reduced by 50 percent, the study found. In addition, the authors wrote, late- night vehicle crashes were reduced by 8 percent. The study also recommends that jurisdictions seek to increase interlock installment rates and reconsider plea agreements that reduce drunk driving charges without requiring an ignition interlock. (McCartt, Leaf Farmer & Eichelberger, 2013) • A NHTSA study compared recidivism of multiple offenders with and without interlocks from 1999-2002. The study compared multiple offenders who were ordered by the courts to install interlocks to multiple offenders who were similarly prohibited from driving but not required to install interlocks. Multiple offender rearrest rates were 66 percent lower than the rearrest rates of those without interlock devices. During the full study period, including both the time on interlock and after interlock, the rearrest rate for those who installed the interlock was 22 percent lower than the rearrest rate for those without the interlock.
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