DWI ignition interlocks, saving lives and taxpayer's money

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by Craig Cheatham

KMOV.com

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 10 at 9:57 AM

(KMOV) -- If you could save lives and taxpayer's money would you do it? That's the question facing Missouri lawmakers. Some people will want to muddy the water on this issue, but don't be fooled.

It really is that simple.

Missouri can join 15 other states, including Illinois, that require all convicted drunk drivers to use a device proven to reduce DWI related crashes and deaths. Will Missouri's legislators require all convicted drunk drivers to use it?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also known as MADD, has a long list of reasons why all convicted drunk drivers should be required to use ignition interlock devices. Those devices connect to the ignition system of a vehicle. Then, the driver must blow through a tube to start the vehicle. If the driver is intoxicated, the device will read the elevated level of alchohol and not start the engine.

Right now, Missouri automatically suspendeds the license of people for a 1st conviction, but doesn't make the interlock a requirement until the 2nd conviction. That makes no sense.

It makes more sense to mandate the interlocks for a first conviction, and for every conviction after that, adding extra interlock time for each subsequent conviction. If the 1st time convicted driver operates a vehicle without the device, he should lose his license and goes to jail. If the driver fails to get the interlock, he should also lose his license and go to jail. Studies cited by MADD show the overwhelming number of drunk drivers will use the devices and not drive intoxicated.

Missouri State Representative Charlie Denison told me he would sponsor a bill requiring the interlocks for all offenders. Senator Jim Lembke is also for it.

If the goal of drunk driving legislation is saving lives, then all convicted drunk drivers should be required to use an interlock device. It really is simple.

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