Cape Gazette
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MADD calls on lawmakers to improve DUI reform in Delaware

Ignition interlock legislation needed to save lives, protect public
Feb 09, 2014

Mothers Against Drunk Driving calls on lawmakers to end the toll of drunk driving on Delaware roads and take swift action this session to enact HB 201 or HB 212, authored by Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton; Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South; and Senate Majority Leader David McBride, D-Hawk’s Nest, requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.

MADD released its annual Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: 2014 Report to the Nation, which rated states based on five criteria for effectively addressing drunk driving. Delaware received four out of five stars. To earn its final star, Delaware must enact legislation to require ignition interlocks for all convicted offenders.

Passage of an all-offender interlock law will qualify Delaware for additional highway safety money as provided by the federal government in the last highway bill known as MAP-21. And, most importantly, it also will save lives, as most states that pass similar laws see DUI fatality reductions of more than 30 percent.

“Reducing drunk driving fatalities in Delaware begins with requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “We are hopeful that in 2014, lawmakers will support HB 201 or HB 212 expanding the use of ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers with illegal blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater who choose to drive during their license suspension period.”

Currently, 20 states including New York and West Virginia require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. In Delaware, since 2009, ignition interlocks are required for first-time offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater. HB 201 and HB 212 will improve the state’s current drunk driving laws.

Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing drunk driving repeat offenses by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All-offender interlock laws are found to reduce repeat offenses significantly, when effectively implemented. Interlocks are more effective than license suspension alone, as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.

Also, states that have passed all-offender interlock laws have seen large reductions in drunk driving deaths. Specifically, drunk driving fatalities have dropped by 33 percent in New Mexico, 40 percent in Louisiana, 46 percent in Arizona and 35 percent in Oregon.

“The report is a blueprint for the elimination of drunk driving. MADD calls on the Legislature to save lives and protect the residents of Delaware from drunk drivers,” said Withers.

The full Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving report can be found at www.madd.org/reporttothenation2014. For more information on ignition interlocks, go to www.madd.org/interlock.

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