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Study finds ignition interlock devices increase safety

Texas motorists who have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles may be less likely to cause a fatal drunk driving accident. According to a study that appeared in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine", fatal crashes in which at least one driver had a blood alcohol content over the limit were reduced 7 percent when mandatory interlock laws were in place. It is estimated that around 1,250 lives have been saved since 1993.

An ignition interlock device works by checking a driver's breath before turning the key. The car will not start if the device measures excess alcohol. The study examined the use of the devices across all 50 states from 1982 to 2013. Researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and controlled for trends over time and other safety laws to reach the conclusion that states with mandatory rather than partial or permissive ignition interlock device laws had significantly fewer alcohol-related traffic deaths.

Around 10,000 people died in car accidents involving the use of alcohol in the United States in 2014. Alcohol-related fatalities accounted for approximately 33 percent of all deaths from motor vehicle accidents.

Penalties for a DWI can go well beyond requiring an ignition interlock device and could include license suspension, fines or a jail term. However, a person facing DWI charges has options. The Breathalyzer might have been administered incorrectly. If law enforcement violated their rights when they were taken into custody, the charges could be dismissed. Even for people faced with clear evidence of the violation, it may be possible to get charges and penalties reduced. One option might be a plea bargain.

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