Feds want ignition interlock for first-time drunk drivers - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

  • The NTSB wants all 50 states to require ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders. Do you agree with this recommendation?

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Feds want ignition interlock required for first-time drunk drivers

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  • Investigators: Interlock Integration

    Investigators: Interlock Integration

    It's a fact that many of the people who lose their license due to a DUI conviction keep driving anyway. Now, a new program is giving convicted drunk drivers a chance to get on the road again.
    It's a fact that many of the people who lose their license due to a DUI conviction keep driving anyway. Now, a new program is giving convicted drunk drivers a chance to get on the road again.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

A federal transportation safety board is recommending all 50 states require ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board said ignition interlock devices are the best available solution to reducing drunk driving deaths. Alcohol is involved in about a third of the 32,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. each year.

So far, 17 states already have laws requiring ignition interlock for all convicted drunk drivers.

In making its case for the device mandate, the NTSB pointed to a new study by its staff finding roughly 360 people a year are killed in wrong-way crashes on highways. The study found 69 percent of wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08.

When the device is installed, the vehicle won't start if the sensor detects even a .02 level of alcohol on a driver's breath. That's one fourth the legal limit.

Once a driver is on the road, he or she still has to prove he's not drinking by blowing into the device while driving. If a person fails the test on the road, it won't stop the car while its moving; however, an "F" gets recorded in a database which is reviewed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. An infraction can either get the driver kicked off the program or add to their time in it.

"It's made me be a cleaner person," said Tom. "It makes me not drink and drive."

Minnesota rolled out ignition interlock statewide in July 2011. Anyone, even a person with multiple DUI convictions, can apply for the program.

To qualify, the offender first pays a $680 license reinstatement fee. They also have to provide proof of insurance and sign a contract with a state-approved interlock company. It costs another $100 or so to have the unit installed in your car. Then, there's a monthly monitoring fee which can run as much as $135. Depending on the drunken driving record, participants might be on the program for a few months or even years.

Minnesota averages nearly 30,000 DWI arrests each year. Tens of thousands of people who lost their licenses could legally drive again if they signed up for the interlock program.

DWI offenders interested in regaining driving privileges through ignition interlock can visit the Department of Public Safety at www.MinnesotaIgnitionInterlock.org

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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