Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a report last Thursday evaluating the status of drinking and driving across the United States. The report was put together by MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, a program launched in 2006 in response to over 13,000 annual drunk driving fatalities in the United States. Eight years after its launch, the campaign’s “Report to the Nation” overviews legislative accomplishments, problem areas, and future goals, providing a “great thumbnail” of our country’s current state of drunk driving, said MADD’s president. While MADD believes “tremendous progress has been made,” the report concludes that there is still significant work to be done.
The report used a five-star rating system, evaluating five areas that can be used to reduce fatalities from drunk driving. The categories include ignition interlock laws, sobriety checkpoints, license revocation, child endangerment laws, and no-refusal events. MADD gave a star to each state based on the existence of legislation in each of these categories.
An ignition interlock is an apparatus installed in the car of a DUI offender to measure the driver’s blood alcohol level. The device requires the driver to first blow under .025 on a breath test before the car will start. MADD endorses laws that require a six-month interlock for first-time offenders and require a longer installation for repeat offenders.
MADD believes that interlock laws are among the most effective ways to prevent DUI fatalities. The report commended a nationwide increase in the installation of ignition interlocks to 318,000, with 24 states having all-offender ignition interlock laws.
Along with interlock laws, MADD cites random DUI checkpoints as among the most effective ways to reduce drunk driving and “protect the public.” These checkpoints are currently legal in 38 states and D.C. MADD also advocates laws that allow the arresting officer to immediately revoke and confiscate the offending driver’s license.
Meanwhile, 46 states and D.C. have enacted laws that consider drunk driving with a minor in the car to constitute child abuse. MADD considers New York’s child endangerment law to be the nation’s best. Finally, a no-refusal event is a program that enables law enforcement officers to obtain an expedited warrant to evaluate an offender who has refused to comply with a blood alcohol test.
Illinois is among 13 states that received all five stars. The report specifically commends Illinois for being among the first states to enact an all-offender ignition interlock law. It further reports that, since this law’s passage in 2009, the state has seen a significant reduction in drunk driving fatalities.
However, since offenders have the option to choose between interlock installation and license suspension, Illinois has lower interlock installation rates than neighboring states. The report notes, for example, that Wisconsin has a weaker interlock law but a better compliance rate. The report encourages Illinois to improve its laws to increase installation rates.
The report concludes by explaining that a research test vehicle is currently being outfitted in Sweden that can only be driven by a sober driver. MADD expresses hope that this vehicle will become available in the United States in 2015.
If you have been charged with a DUI crime in Illinois, it is crucial to speak to an experienced Illinois DUI, DWI, or drunk driving lawyer as soon as possible. Harvatin Law Offices, PC provides knowledgeable representation for people in Springfield and throughout Illinois. We have considerable experience defending individuals charged with DUI offenses. To learn more and to set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 217.525.0520.
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Former Chicago Bears Quarterback Sentenced to Prison for DUI, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg, December 2, 2014