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Congresswoman Pushes for Mandatory Ignition Interlock Law

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U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey

U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)

U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) is proposing a law today that would require all states to install ignition interlocks in the vehicles of all convicted drunk-driving offenders for at least six months, writes Tanya Mohn for Forbes. Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that under this law, states would face a reduction in federal transportation funding if they do not change their laws by October 1, 2014.

The law is named “Alisa’s Law” in honor of Alisa Joy, the daughter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Jan Withers. Alisa was killed in 1992 at the age of 15 by an underage drinker who drove while intoxicated, the press release says.

The press release goes on to say:

‘In my mind, driving drunk only once is one time too many,’ said Lowey. ‘I am introducing Alisa’s Law to provide law-enforcement officials an additional tool to help keep our communities safe. We have seen successful implementation in some states, including New York, and we have seen partial implementation in others. The time is now to make this the law of the land across the country in order to keep drunk drivers off the streets.’

Lowey announced the proposed law in a conference call on July 3, along with Jan Withers and Rockland County, N.Y. Sheriff Louis Falco III. Withers noted in the press release that 24 states currently have a law requiring the device, which is essentially a breathalyzer that prohibits an impaired driver from starting his or her vehicle. “It is imperative that all states follow suit to ensure that ALL Americans are protected from drunk drivers,” Withers said. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Colorado is among the states that require ignition interlocks for all offenders — first timers and repeat offenders alike.

Last December, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged authorities to require all DUI first-offenders to have ignition interlocks installed on their vehicles, as this blog has written.  In the same article, we also reported that France requires all of its citizens to have a handheld breathalyzer in their vehicles, as Shane McGlaun wrote for DailyTech’s Auto blog.

Drunk driving kills many thousands of people annually, Lowey notes in the press release. In 2012, there were 10,322 people killed due to drunk drivers, which equals one out of every three highway deaths. MADD’s studies have found that the average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before being caught, Lowey’s press release reports.

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