Drunk driving claims thousands of lives each year in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10,228 people died in car accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2010, which accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. The CDC reports that almost 30 people die every day in the U.S. in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, or one person every 48 minutes. Victims of drunk driving and their families may be entitled to compensation and should learn about their legal rights from an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney.
Strategies for preventing drunk driving include sobriety checkpoints, tough penalties for people convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), and mandatory ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer system installed on one’s vehicle that prevents a driver from starting or continuing to operate the vehicle if the system detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. The driver must provide a breath sample before starting the vehicle and at random intervals while operating the vehicle. If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds a preset level, the vehicle will not start. If the vehicle is already in operation, the system will log the event and initiate an alarm, such as a honking horn or flashing lights, until the driver turns off the vehicle.
Courts often reserve ignition interlock devices for drivers with BACs of .15 or above, repeat offenders and intoxicated drivers who caused injury to someone else or had a child in the vehicle. However, several states have introduced mandatory interlock laws that require IIDs for anyone convicted of drunk driving, including first time offenders and drivers with BACs between .08 and .14. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of May 2012, all 50 states had ignition interlock laws, with 14 states requiring IIDs for all persons convicted of drunk driving. Although New Jersey does not require ignition interlock devices in all DUI cases, the state does require IIDs for first time DUI offenders with BACs of .15 or above, as well as for repeat offenders regardless of BAC level.
Mandatory interlock laws have proven successful at reducing repeat DWI/DUI offenses. For instance, researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied driver records in Washington and found a 12 percent reduction in repeat DUI offenses after the state expanded its interlock requirement to include all offenders. Given that only about one-third of offenders followed through with the interlock requirement, researchers estimate that if all offenders had installed IIDs on their vehicles, repeat DUI offenses would have been cut almost in half.
Even with mandatory interlock laws in place in a growing number of states, some drivers will continue to drink and drive and put others at risk. If a drunk driver seriously injured you or killed your loved one, contact a knowledgeable Atlantic City injury lawyer today to learn about your legal rights.