Thursday, September 06, 2007

Eliminating Drunk Driving

Chuck Hurley, CEO of MADD, thinks drunk driving can be eliminated within 10 years.

Today on my KMOX show, he explained the steps that need to be taken to achieve that goal. One of them is something I've advocated for years, and I'm glad to see MADD has made it a priority of their agenda. When a first-time offender is convicted of DUI, they should have to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle, at their own expense. The interlock is essentially a breathalyzer that the driver must blow into, and if it detects too high a level of alcohol, the car will not start. The driver must then blow into it at various intervals during the trip, or the car will turn itself off. It should remain on the vehicle for at least 90 days for a first offense, and much longer for repeat offenses.

That's really the only way to make sure you can't drive when you've had too much to drink. Taking away someone's license after a DUI conviction doesn't get it done, because it doesn't prevent that driver from getting behind the wheel again.

Illinois will become one of the first states with such a law, already signed by Gov. Blagojevich, which goes into effect in January, 2009. The law has been proposed in Missouri, but hasn't made it out of committee yet. Since our advocacy at KMOX of tougher drunk driving laws has seemed to have an impact on the state's legislators in the past, we'll continue to press them, on behalf of our listeners and ourselves, to ignition interlock legislation this session.

For more of MADD's four-point plan to eliminate drunk driving in the US, listen to my conversation with Chuck Hurley. Then visit the MADD website.