The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 6, 2013

Alabama needs to get tougher on drunk drivers

Associated Press

The Dothan Eagle on another layer of bureaucracy:

It’s downright shameful that Alabama comes straggling in at the bottom of so many measures of good practices in the nation. Take drunken driving, for instance. While the DUI rate in our state is below the national average, statistics still suggest that 9.7 percent of Alabama drivers hit the roads while under the influence of alcohol. Despite this, in 2011 Alabama became the very last state to adopt a law requiring repeat offenders and some first-time offenders to have a device installed in their vehicles that would check the driver’s breath for alcohol use and would not start if it detects alcohol on their breath.

Worse, two years later the law hasn’t been implemented because lawmakers can’t seem to find the money to put it into play.

On one hand, the program, which uses a device called an ignition interlock, is possible to game by an industrious DUI offender. For instance, the device doesn’t know if the person breathing into it is the one who will be driving the car. An impaired driver with an interlock device might borrow a different car. Some offenders will even have their vehicles re-titled to beat an installation requirement.

Despite this, CDC statistics suggest the programs are effective in the states that have found the wherewithal to initiate them. Studies show a 67 percent drop in recidivism among those using the interlock devices.