Op-Ed: Anti-DUI Devices Effective But Rarely Used


Duke professor Philip Cook and a collaborator write in the New York Times that while ignition-interlock devices for preventing drunk driving are “highly effective,” they are rarely installed in the cars of people who have been known to drive while intoxicated. Cook and Maeve E. Gearing write, “People driving while intoxicated still cause about 13,000 deaths a year in the United States. And of the 1.4 million arrests made, one-third involve repeat offenders. The greatest potential of ignition interlocks is to reduce this recidivism.”

They continue, “Eight states now mandate that interlocks be installed in the cars of all drunk-driving offenders, and another 25 require them for repeat offenders or those whose blood-alcohol content was far higher than the legal limit. Still other states give judges the option to order interlock installation. But implementation of these measures has lagged. Judges often fail to order installation, even when the law requires it. Offenders routinely ignore orders to get interlocks. And in areas where the installation is voluntary, few offenders install them. In 2007, only about 146,000 interlocks were in use…The ignition interlock could be an extraordinarily effective way to prevent drunk-driving recidivism. But it can save lives only if we make sure people use it.”

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