New Mexico, which led the nation in alcohol-related crash rates for years, in 2005 became the first state to require ignition interlocks, which require drivers to prove they’re sober before the engine will start, for every convicted drunk driver. The Los Angeles Times says the interlocks have been the centerpiece of the state’s successful anti-drunk-driving efforts, which include more sobriety checkpoints, tougher mandatory sentencing laws for driving while intoxicated, and the creation of the nation’s first DWI czar.
New Mexico, home to high alcohol abuse and miles and miles of open road, now is ranked 25th in alcohol-related fatal crash rates and is expected to place lower when the latest rankings are compiled later this year. From 2004 to 2008, the number of DWI fatalities dropped 35 percent, from 219 to 143. “We want all 50 states to do what New Mexico has done,” said Chuck Hurley of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If each of the 1.4 million Americans convicted each year of drunk driving were forced to install one, he said, 4,000 lives would be saved annually.