NTSB: Require ignition locks for all drunk drivers

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The device is known as an ignition interlock.

"You've got to blow for seven seconds," says a woman testing the device. And if it picks up no alcohol on the driver's breath, the device allows the vehicle to operate.

To stop first-time convicted drunk drivers from re-offending, the NTSB would like every new offender to be required to have an ignition interlock device in their car. NTSB is asking for the standard even in cases where the initial violation was as low as .08 at the time of arrest.

Motorists we talked to said they liked the idea. "Maybe less drinking, I can agree with that," says Chester Mann. "People may not intend to hurt somebody, but if you drive drunk it will probably be likely to do it a second time."

"People don't learn the first time, said Justin Bilbery. "One time, that's all. They'll learn it."

MADD likes the NTSB idea, but longtime anti-DUI activist Marie Greger-Smith with Advocates Against Impaired Driving says "it's is absolutely too much." She lost a mother to an impaired driver and still suffers from injuries inflicted by an impaired driver.

"If someone is court ordered to do this and they don't have the money, who is going to foot the bill for it," Greger-Smith asks. "I think it will come back to the taxpayers."

Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega agrees. "I would probably urge it on second offenders," says Sonnega.

The American Beverage Institute opposes the heavy first-time penalties. "Somebody who is one sip over the legal limit shouldn't be punished to the same degree as someone who had ten drinks prior to driving," says ABI's Sarah Longwell. No "one size fits all" penalties, she says.

NTSB says eventually all cars should be built with alcohol sensors.


WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal safety board is recommending that all states require ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board said the devices are currently the best available solution to reducing drunk driving deaths, which account for about a third of the nation's 32,000 traffic deaths each year.

In particular, the board cited a new study by its staff that found some 360 people a year are killed in wrong-way driving crashes on high-speed highways. The study concluded that 69 percent of wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08.

Seventeen states already have laws requiring use of the device by all convicted drunk drivers.

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