Study Finds Ignition Interlock Laws May Reduce Fatal Drunk Driving Accidents

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Posted on Jan 20, 2017

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently published a paper on the effects of mandatory ignition interlock laws on the number of fatal drunk driving accidents. The study found that states with strict laws requiring these devices after any DUI conviction had lower numbers of alcohol-related crash fatalities.

The paper reviewed the number of fatal DUI crashes from all 50 states and compared these numbers to each state’s ignition interlock laws. Experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Colorado School of Public Health worked together to conduct the study.

How do these laws work?

Ignition interlock devices require drivers to breathe into a tube to verify they are sober before their vehicle will start. In some cases, they must also blow into the tube at random intervals while they drive.

Most states originally only mandated this device for repeat offenders or those convicted of vehicular homicide or other serious offenses. Since 1993, however, half of the states passed laws making these devices mandatory after any drunk driving conviction.

According to the study, states that have mandatory ignition interlock laws have seven percent fewer alcohol-related crash fatalities (involving a BAC over 0.08) than states who only use the devices for repeat offenders. The study found an eight percent decrease in accidents involving a BAC at or above 0.15. The researchers estimate that these laws saved 1,250 lives since the first state adopted them in 1993.

Does Washington State currently require ignition interlock devices?

Washington is one of the 25 states that currently mandates mandatory ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving convictions. Washington law requires installation of an ignition interlock device before reinstating a driver license when the conviction is for:

  • Drunk or drugged driving, or a related offense
  • Reckless or negligent driving and you have a previous drunk driving charge (within seven years) (the court may opt to require ignition interlock devices for a reckless driving charge without prior DUIs)
  • Vehicular homicide, and you were drunk at the time of the crash

The time period you must use the ignition interlock device depends on the facts of your case, and any prior convictions. Typically:

  • A first DUI requires one year
  • A second DUI requires five years
  • A third (or more) DUI requires ten years
  • If there was a child in the car at the time of arrest, the driver can expect an extra six months

For at least the last four months of this time period, you will undergo Compliance Based Review (CBR). During CBR, the interlock manufacturer carefully reviews your records to ensure you meet the requirements to have the company remove the device.

Where can I get help for my drunk driving crash in Seattle?

If a drunk driver caused your Washington State car accident, Max Meyers Law can help you hold them liable for the damages you suffered. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule an appointment to discuss your claim, and get started as soon as possible. 

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.