Mandatory interlock device law may save lives in Georgia

Ignition interlock devices have proven to decrease the DUI fatality rate in other states, but Georgia has yet to strengthen IID laws.

Although Georgia law enforces strict penalties for people who choose to drive while drunk, many people continue to get behind the wheel after drinking. In fact, research shows that before drunk drivers are arrested for the first time, many have driven intoxicated an average of 80 times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These negligent drivers take the lives of thousands of people across the country every year. In an attempt to reduce the number of people killed in drunk driving car accidents, some states have enacted legislation requiring all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. Advocates of ignition interlock devices are urging Georgia lawmakers to pass such a law.

DUI statistics

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 10,076 people were killed and another 290,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers in 2013. In Georgia alone, 297 people lost their lives in DUI accidents, accounting for more than 25 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the state. Not only do drunk driving accidents cost innocent human lives, as well as pain and suffering for the victims' families, these collisions have a high price tag for state taxpayers as well. In 2013, Georgia taxpayers paid at least $1.4 billion to cover the cost of DUI car accidents.

How can IIDs help?

Ignition interlock devices prevent people from driving their vehicle if they have a measurable blood alcohol content level. These devices, which are wired directly into the vehicle's ignition system, will prohibit the car from starting if the driver has a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. Before the driver can start the car, he or she must blow through a tube that is attached to the device. Periodically throughout the drive, the DUI offender will be alerted to blow into the tube for a rolling retest. If the driver misses a rolling retest or is found to have a BAC that is over the preset limit, an alarm will sound until the driver pulls his or her car over and turns it off.

Proven success

States that require all convicted DUI offenders to use an IID in their vehicles have seen a dramatic drop in the DUI fatality rate, as well as the number of serious injuries caused by drunk drivers. The CDC reported that interlock devices can reduce the number of people who continue to drink and drive by more than 67 percent. Louisiana, Arizona, New Mexico and West Virginia have had a decline in the number of DUI deaths by at least 35 percent.

When to involve an attorney

People who have been involved in a drunk driving automobile accident may suffer from serious injuries, including spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, fractured bones, lacerations and even paralysis, as well as significant emotional trauma. You should not be responsible for the repercussions of another driver's bad decisions. You may want to consider speaking to a personal injury attorney in Georgia about your legal options.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury