TX officials have yet to mandate interlock device use for all DUI offenders

Drunk drivers kill thousands of Americans each year. Ignition interlock devices help to keep drunk drivers off of the streets.

Texas had more drunk driving deaths than any other state in the nation in 2011, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In 2012, 1,296 people died as a result of drunk driving car accidents, making up 38 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the state. Approximately 25,671 accidents were caused by drivers who had a blood alcohol content level of 0.01 or higher. Drunk driving deaths in Texas increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2012. Despite this surprising increase in drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths, Texas officials have yet to enforce mandatory ignition interlock device legislation in the state.

Interlock device legislation

Currently, there are 22 states in the nation that enforce mandatory interlock device legislation for first time offenders, according to MADD. Many of these states have seen a significant drop in their DUI fatality rates, with five of the states showing a decrease greater than 30 percent since the implementation of the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that interlock devices reduce the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent and play a major role in keeping drunk drivers off the road.

Although Texas judges can order any convicted drunk driver to participate in the interlock device program, it is only mandated for those offenders who have two or more convictions or have a blood alcohol content level of 0.15 percent or higher, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Understanding interlock devices

Despite having a suspended driver’s license, up to 75 percent of DUI offenders continue to drive, according to MADD. Ignition interlock devices help combat this problem by making an offender’s vehicle inaccessible while the offender is drunk. The device controls the ignition system of the vehicle, and renders it useless until a clean breath sample is submitted.

The breath test machine will perform an initial evaluation of the motorist’s breath sample for alcohol content in order to start the vehicle and will prompt the driver to submit subsequent breath samples while driving the car. If the driver fails to submit a breath sample when prompted or blows a sample that is over the preset BAC limit, an alarm on the car will sound until the driver pulls over and stops the vehicle. Not only do interlock devices prevent motorists from driving drunk, but they save countless others from sustaining severe or fatal injuries as well.

Contact an attorney

People who have been victimized by another driver’s negligence should consider contacting a personal injury attorney. An attorney can lend vital legal counsel to those who have suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident.