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Coming Soon Nationwide: Mandatory Ignition Interlocks

Tanya Mohn with Forbes reports that federal lawmakers are introducing the next mandate for states to follow or risk losing their federal transportation funding. This looks to be exactly the same strategy the feds used to force state compliance with other DUI laws, namely the .08 legal limit, which is national. The mandate: States must require all DUI offenders to install and maintain the ignition interlock device on their cars for at least six months after the offense date.

The ignition interlock is a device that stops a car or truck from starting up if the driver has any alcohol on his or her breath. The would-be driver blows into a tube. If the device registers the presence of any amount of alcohol, the car would not start. Mohn reports that ignition interlocks reduce repeat DUI by 67 percent.

The bill is known as Alisa's Law, named after the daughter of MADD chief Jan Withers. Withers said: "Requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers is now recognized as the best way to prevent them from reoffending. Naming this legislation after my daughter is an honor, and a message to the public that the fight against drunk driving is not going to end until there are no more victims of this violent crime."

There is no doubt that an ignition interlock would cut down on the risk of a driver who's had too much to drink and poses a risk to others on the road due to dangerous driving. But the breadth of this law-requiring all DUI offenders to install the ignition interlock-does not seem to take into account the fact that the definition of a "drunk driver" seems to be getting broader and broader as time goes on.

To some, a driver with two beers in his system, while under the .08 alcohol level, is still an impaired driver, and deserves to be prosecuted for DUI.

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