Advocates say ignition interlock law would reduce DWI crashes

North Carolina lawmakers are considering a DWI bill that advocates say could cut DWI-related crashes dramatically.

Proposed legislation would require devices for anybody convicted of a DWI

Two bills before North Carolina lawmakers would make ignition interlock devices mandatory for anybody convicted of drunk driving, according to WBTV News. Currently, the devices are only mandatory for certain classes of drunk driver convictions. The proposed legislation would drastically expand the ignition interlock program in the state. Advocates say similar measures taken in other states have led to dramatic decreases in the number of fatal DWI-related car crashes.

Devices required for all offenders

Ignition interlock devices are a type of Breathalyzer device installed in a motor vehicle. When the driver gets into the car, he enters a secret pin code and is then asked to breathe into the device. If the device detects a blood-alcohol level above a preset limit then the car will prevent the driver from starting the engine.

Under current North Carolina law, ignition interlocks are required first-time offenders who register a blood-alcohol level above 0.15, people with at least three DWI convictions in seven years, and anybody who refuses a Breathalyzer test. Amendments in House Bills 41 and 1027 would expand the program to require anybody convicted of a DWI to have the devices installed.

Big decreases in fatal crashes

Advocates for the proposed legislation say similar measures taken by other states have led to dramatic decreases in the number of DWI-related fatalities. As the Kings Mountain Herald reported, New Mexico has seen a 38 percent decrease in DWI fatalities since it made ignition interlock devices mandatory for all convicted drunk drivers in 2005. Oregon passed similar legislation in 2008 and has seen fatal DWI-related crashes drop by 42 percent.

Supporters of the changes also point out that license suspensions do little to prevent convicted drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, with as many as 75 percent of convicted people with a suspended license continuing to drive. Ignition interlock laws, according to the Center for Disease Control, have been shown to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.

Accidents caused by a drunk driver

While the above legislation, if passed, will hopefully make North Carolina's roads and highways safer, the truth is that already countless families have suffered catastrophic hardship and suffering because of the reckless actions taken by drunk drivers. Anybody who has been injured by a drunk, or otherwise negligent, driver may be able to seek punitive damages against the driver that go beyond standard compensation.

In order to have the best chance at receiving the compensation they deserve, however, victims of a motor vehicle accident should contact a qualified personal injury lawyer right away. An experienced attorney can put his years of practice and expertise to use to help ensure accident victims' rights and interests are protected.

Keywords: car accidents, DWI crashes, ignition interlock,