Both houses of Congress are currently considering bills that may have the effect of increasing mandatory ignition interlock programs across the country, boosting sales of the devices. According to sources, the bills include measures to give states extra money to pass laws requiring ignition inerlock devices for convicted drunk drivers.
Both Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safey support the proposed measures, which they say could save 7,000 lives per year in the United States resulting from drunk driving.
Ignition interlock devices analyze a driver's breath and prevent operation of a vehicle if the driver's blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit. The devices are already used in many states, including Washinton, where the devices allow offenders to drive equipped vehicles while their regular license is suspended or revoked for a drug or alcohol-related offense. Washington is among the states that require the devices for first-time offenders.
At present, roughly 249,000 ignition interlock units are in use nationwide. If the measures pass Congress' approaval, sales of ignition interlock devices may rise as high as 750,000, possibly higher, though sales may peak out since not all offenders will use them and the devices themselves will have a deterrent effect.
While groups like MADD and IIHS support the measures, representatives from the restaurant industry have expressed concern that more widespread use of the devices will have a chilling effect on their business.
Sources didn't indicate whether the measures stand a good chance of passing, or whether they will meet resistance among lawmakers.
Source: Bloomberg, "Drunk-Driving Interlock Sales May Jump," Angela Greiling Keane, February 15, 2012.
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