House Transportation Bill Eliminates States’ Authority on Interlock Use and Will Cost Over $432 Million

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Today the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which represents over eight thousand of America’s favorite family restaurants, denounced the House Transportation Reauthorization Bill which would require that all 50 states mandate ignition interlocks – in-car breathalyzers – as punishment for low-BAC (blood alcohol concentration) first-time DUI offenders. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a press conference about this bill today at 3:00pm.

Laws mandating ignition interlocks for all offenders deny judges the ability to distinguish between a driver one sip over the limit and high-BAC, repeat offenders.Only 15 states have enacted laws like this, while 27 have chosen to target the hardcore offenders: those arrested with high-BACs (.15% and above) and/or repeat convictions. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the average BAC of a drunk driver in a fatal car crash is 0.19% — more than twice the legal limit. But the House’s proposed interlock mandate doesn’t target this dangerous population and instead will force first-time DUI offenders, even those just one sip over the legal limit, to install breathalyzers in their cars.

In addition to failing to target the worst offenders, this mandate will cost each state millions of dollars to enforce. The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) recently estimated that the cost for supervision of offenders to states would be over $432 million. Yet, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a fervent supporter of such wide-reaching, one-size-fits-all mandates, will claim that this measure is cost-neutral to states.

Posted by Aaron