August 24, 2007

NHTSA urges increased use of ignition interlocks for repeat drunk driving offenders

Washington, D.C. – Nicole Nason, Administrator for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has called on judges and prosecutors to consider increasing the use of ignition interlocks as part of a penalty enforced against repeat drunk driving offenders.

Nason made the recommendation during a meeting in Washington with judges, court professionals, safety equipment manufacturers and national safety advocates to discuss the role of alcohol ignition interlocks for repeat offenders to reduce drunk driving fatalities.

Nason notes that interlocks are currently used in approximately 100,000 driving-while-intoxicated cases each year, which is only about 20 per cent of the cases for which they could be used. She also notes that drunk driving fatalities have stagnated; in 2006, 13,470 fatalities occurred in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operation who had a .08 or above blood alcohol concentration, compared with 13,582 in 2005.

There are approximately 1.5 million arrests of impaired drivers each year in the U.S., a third of which are repeat offenders. Judges can order interlocks for drunk driving offenders in almost every state except for Alabama, Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota and Vermont.

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