Alabama may have been late to the party, but the last U.S. state has finally passed its own ignition interlock law as a way to keep repeat and some first-time DUI offenders off the streets.
According to a WSFA report, the new bill, which was signed earlier this summer by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, mandates that all repeat drunk drivers install ignition interlock systems on their vehicles. These devices make it impossible for motorists to start their vehicles until they blow into them. If the device detects a certain amount of alcohol on motorists' breath, it will lock their vehicles' engines, preventing their owners from driving.
Alabama's bill also mandates interlock devices for first-time offenders, too, if their blood alcohol levels are .15 percent or higher, WSFA reported.
Alabama is now the 50th state to pass an ignition interlock law. It is only the 13th state, though, to pass a law that requires first-time drunk drivers with blood alcohol levels of .15 percent or higher to install interlocks on their vehicles.
The WSFA story cites statistics from the Centers for Disease Control stating that ignition interlocks reduce drunk driving recidivism by an average of 67 percent.
In a statement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) praised Alabama for taking this step. In support of the state's requirement that some first-time drunk-driving offenders install interlock devices on their vehicles, MADD cited a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control saying that first-time DUI offenders drive drunk on average 87 times before police officers catch them. It's important, then, MADD said, to monitor the blood alcohol contents of even first-time DUI offenders before allowing them to start their vehicles.
Alabama's new law is yet more evidence that states across the country are cracking down more heavily on drunk driving. More evidence can be found in the drunk-driving random checks that many police departments perform during times in which impaired motorists are more likely to take to the streets.
Alabama also serves as an example of how even latecomers to the ignition interlock solution are embracing the devices as ways to prevent drunk-driving accidents. Expect to see more states requiring some first-time drunk drivers - even some with blood alcohol contents of .08 percent instead of .15 percent - to install ignition interlocks on their vehicles.