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Prevent Drunk Driving Deaths With Ignition Interlock Devices

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, known as MADD, is a national organization with more than a dozen chapters in Texas, including one in Houston. The mission of MADD is straightforward: to end drunk driving, fight drugged driving, support victims of these crimes, and prevent underage drinking.

Texas DUI Fatalities Highest in the United States

The number of drunk driving deaths has declined nationally by 50 percent since MADD was founded in 1980. However, 2013 statistics for Texas indicate that the state may be going in the wrong direction. With 1,337 deaths caused by a drunk driver, Texas leads the nation. And that is not just because the population of Texas is the second highest in the nation. California, which has 50 percent more people than Texas, had a third fewer drunk driving deaths in 2013.

MADD employs a variety of strategies to achieve its goals, including legislative lobbying. Its target for 2015 is ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DUI for the first time.

According to a report in the Dallas Morning News, Texas changed its drunk driving laws ten years ago, which is why Texas leads the United States in drunk driving fatalities. Today, drivers convicted of driving under the influence for the first time are required to have an ignition interlock device only when their blood alcohol levels are .15 percent, almost twice the legal limit. Texas drivers with any repeat DUI conviction are also required to have IID installed in their vehicles.

As a result of the legal changes, Texas judges have less discretion in sentencing than they did previously, making it unlikely that a first-time offender would be required to have an ignition interlock device if his or her blood alcohol level was less than .15 percent.

Reasons to Require IIDs For First-Time OffendersT

The talking points for MADD’s 2015 legislative agenda include:

  • Interlock devices reduce repeat DUIs by about 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control
  • Requiring interlock devices is more effective than suspending licenses, as large numbers of those convicted of drunk driving continue to drive on their suspended licenses
  • States that require all drivers to have interlock devices installed have cut drunk driving deaths by 30 percent
  • At least 76 percent of the public supports installation of IIDs for all drivers convicted of DUI
  • There are 17 states (plus several counties in California) that require IIDs for drivers with a first-time DUI conviction
  • A conviction for a first-time DUI is rarely the first time the driver has operated a vehicle while under the influence. Some estimates report that people convicted of DUI for the first time have driven drunk at least 80 times before being arrested.

Until MADD achieves its goal of eliminating drunk driving fatalities, people will continue to die as a result of drivers who drink. If you lost a loved one because of a drunk driver, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner to learn how we may be able to help.

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