The Ignition Interlock Hoax

By James Baxter, NMA President

MADD and its bloated stepmother, NHTSA, have been pushing for mandated ignition interlock devices (IIDs), preferably in all vehicles, but they know from experience these things have to be done in an incremental fashion, or there could be severe public backlash and resistance. One can currently assume that the breathalyzer industry has been actively writing checks to “enhance public safety” through the legislated mandated use of these devices.

The first stage of the incremental process is to target “bad people,” that would be the two million people who receive DUIs, annually. The objective is to force the courts to require the installation in all cars driven by persons convicted of DUI. Obviously, this would be a bonanza for the companies that make and market IIDs. The country’s number one “early adopter,” California, jumped on this bandwagon in the late 1980’s. Subsequently, the CA state legislature had the foresight to insert a provision in the law that required an evaluation of the IID mandate. Here are some of those findings:

Although ordered by the courts to install IIDs, many DUI defendants did not do so, ostensibly because they could not afford to do so.

When comparing the DUI convicted drivers who actually drove vehicles with IIDs to DUI drivers who did not use IIDs, those using IIDs had significantly more crashes. (84 percent more)

First offenders with high BACs, .20 or higher, who were ordered to use IIDs had just as many subsequent DUIs and crashes as those first offenders who were not ordered to install IIDs.

However, the first offenders who actually had IIDs installed had far more crashes than those who did not.

If this measure is being considered for safety purposes, as is claimed by the proponents, why is the legislature considering a mandate that will substantially increase vehicle crashes?

The financial and collateral penalties, experienced by the average person convicted of DUI, ultimately constitute many thousands of dollars and lost educational and vocational opportunities. It hardly seems fair or rational to institute yet another penalty that does little more than benefit the Ignition Interlock Device industry, and body shops, while placing more burdens on hospital emergency rooms. That is, if the intent is to improve highway safety.

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