Hawaii last month became the 47th state to enact an ignition-interlock law to prevent drunk driving, reports Stateline.org. The laws vary widely. Seven states with the strictest laws require ignition interlocks for all first-time convictions regardless of blood alcohol content, and California, Pennsylvania and New York are considering bills that would strengthen their existing laws. The seven states with the toughest laws are Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Washington. Alabama, South Dakota and Vermont have no ignition interlock laws.
Most states require ignition interlocks only in certain circumstances and at the discretion of the courts. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, citing studies that show most drivers who are pulled over for the offense have driven drunk 87 to 200 times before their first conviction, advocates for ignition interlocks for all first convictions. More than 17,000 deaths were blamed on alcohol-related crashes in 2006. One study indicated that ignition interlocks reduce drunk driving by 45 to 90 percent. About 133,000 ignition interlocks are in use in the United States, the cost of which – $70 to $100 a month – is paid by the offender.