New law ties breathalyzer to ignition to prevent drunk driving

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A drunk driving crackdown is getting new support from Indiana lawmakers.

With people out celebrating the Saint Patrick's Day holiday early this weekend, police are also taking action with check-points to look for drunk drivers.

The new law makes it so convicted drunk drivers can have a device installed in their cars right away that functions like a breathalyzer.

If you're too drunk to drive, the device knows that and your car won't start.

For people who have lived through a crash caused from drunk driving, like 29 year old Alissa Brown, the new measure is good news.

"This kept my leg from breaking again," said Brown in her Muncie home, holding up a titanium metal rod that was once in her left leg.

"I'm so glad it's not in me anymore," said Brown who also said she still has metal plates in her arm and several metal screws in her left hip.

"You can actually see where the bone came out right there and I have the scars on both sides of it," said Brown, pointing to her arm.

The scars on her arm and knees, remind Brown of the accident, eight years ago, where a drunk driver plowed into her car while she was behind the wheel, coming home from church.

"For two weeks of my life, it was a black hole," said Brown.

Brown was only 21 at the time and couldn't walk for more than year.

"It stripped me of all dignity that I had," she said.

"I think back to 21 and I had to go through so much that I shouldn't of had to go through," she added.

The drunk driver who hit Brown, went to jail and lost his license for life.

"I thought, well that's stupid, he's going to drive anyway," Brown explained.

That's why Brown said she's in favor a new law that would make ignition interlock devices more widespread for convicted drunk drivers.

"We need to be accountable for our decisions and if you decide to drink and drive, you need to be accountable for that and I think these are making people accountable," she said.

"This is my 11 year sobriety coin that I got here in Indiana," said Jim Drew, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for the past 15 years.

The group is what's kept Drew accountable since he made the decision to get sober.

"I know if I drink, I'll die," he said.

Before sobriety though, Drew said he drank and drove all the time and was arrested once.

"I lost my license," he said.

Drew said that still wasn't enough to stop him from getting behind the wheel, drunk, again.

"With interactive lock, I think it's a great idea because there's a lot of people that say, 'oh, I'm ok to drive. Oh, I'm ok to walk,' but you're really not," said Drew of the devices.

Drew said he knows there are people out there this weekend who will drink and drive.

"Call a cab. Have a designated driver," he would say to those folks.

Alissa Brown had an even more sobering message.

"Please, don't," said Brown to the people who might consider drinking and driving this weekend.  "But if you do, it will eventually catch up to you and it might be someone's death on your hands," she added.


The ignition interlock device is hard wired to the engine's ignition system.

Before you can drive, you must blow into the breathalyzer.  If you test above the preset limit, the ignition won't start.

Some are also designed to give tests after driving has begun to prevent a sober friend from blowing in the device and to prevent drinking after the car is started.

If the driver fails the test after driving has started, the ignition interlock device will issue a warning and an alarm will go off until the ignition is turned off.