Advertisement

Opinion

Opinion

DUI deterrent

Devices that keep people from drinking and driving may be having a positive impact on the number of alcohol-related accidents in Kansas.

April 12, 2012

Advertisement

It’s one thing to tell someone who has been convicted of driving under the influence that he or she can’t drive. It’s an entirely different thing to physically prevent that person from starting the car when he or she has consumed alcoholic beverages.

That’s why it only makes sense that a new Kansas law that requires first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlocks on their cars would have a positive effect on the number of alcohol-related accidents reported in the state.

A decrease in alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities always is good news. State officials reported a 12 percent drop in alcohol-related accidents: from 2,801 in 2010 to 2,463 in 2011. There was an even more dramatic drop in fatal accidents involving alcohol: from 138 in 2010 to 76 in 2011, a decline of about 45 percent.

Officials aren’t ready to say that the new ignition interlock law, which went into effect on July 1, 2011, was the primary reason for the decline. They say intense news coverage of the new DUI law and a statewide effort to crack down on drunken driving probably also helped drive the number of incidents down. Nonetheless, common sense tells us the ignition interlocks would be a strong contributing factor.

Suspending a person’s driver’s license doesn’t keep that person from driving. In far too many cases over the years, serious alcohol-related accidents have involved impaired drivers with previous DUI convictions. Many of those people were driving without valid driver’s licenses, but that didn’t keep them from getting behind the wheel. Having to use an ignition interlock device that measures their blood-alcohol content before allowing them to start their cars creates a physical impediment to such drivers.

Most states have ignition interlock laws, but Kansas is one of just 15 states that has such a law for first-time DUI offenders. Drivers convicted of a DUI must apply for modified licenses that allow them to drive only cars equipped with an ignition interlock and present proof that such a device has been installed in their cars, at their expense. According to the Kansas Department of Revenue, nearly 3,000 Kansas drivers had applied for such licenses from July 1, 2011, through March 2, 2012. First-time offenders must use the interlock device for a year.

It’s certainly possible for drivers to evade the law by driving an unmonitored vehicle, but stiffer DUI penalties that also went into effect last July — including fines, license suspensions, jail time and possible felony convictions for repeat offenders — provide added incentive not to drink and then drive.

As state officials noted, it’s too soon to know whether the ignition interlock provision should get the credit for the decline in alcohol-related accidents or is just part of an overall successful strategy in the state. Either way, the decline in alcohol-related accidents and deaths is good news for Kansas.

Comments

cowboy 2 years, 8 months ago

The DUI industry , court fines , DCCCA , interlocks , etc has been largely ineffective.

Why not attempt to cut off the source. Require ID for any alcohol purchase. If you have any alcohol related offense your ID is marked restricting purchases of alcohol.

sciencegeek 2 years, 8 months ago

This touches on a largely underrated offense: driving on a suspended license. One of the reasons it is so common is that the penalty, if caught, is insignificant. What it it actually HURT to drive with a suspended license? If there was jail time or stiff fines for doing it, it might make people think twice before doing it. Now, there's no reason for drunks, habitual speeders, rotten drivers, etc. not to thumb their noses at a suspended license. Why suspend a license if it doesn't matter?

cowboy 2 years, 8 months ago

It is an industry plain and simple . The courts make money , the "treatment & evaluation" centers make money , the interlock companies make money. It's common knowledge that court ordered treatment has a ridiculously low percentage of effecting change. Society's changing tolerance of drunkeness has had an effect.

Having had 3 family members killed by a drunk driver , worked in community mental health in my younger years , and watched close friends and family struggle with alcohol over the years , the courts and ordered treatment have little to do with stopping the cycle of abuse.

Cut off the supply.

cowboy 2 years, 8 months ago

"According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one-third of all DUI arrests involve offenders who have had at least one previous DUI charge. Mandatory alcohol assessment, education and treatment has been shown to reduce repeat offenses by as much as seven to nine percent."

Stating in reverse is that for approximately 90% of offenders there is not a significant change. This tracks pretty well with any type of therapy. Few people actually change. They stop when they are ready to stop...or not.

Cut off the supply !

cowboy 2 years, 8 months ago

While your support of counseling is commendable Markoo , the studies are primarily produced by providers to validate their services or approaches. I would assume you are in the counseling field. Want to effect change in an alcoholic , get them sober for a period of time.

We currently let them out of jail hours after getting picked up. Why not hold them for 24 hours , let them miss a day of work , have some immediate impact. Simple learning theory requires a negative reinforcement to be immediate , courts take months to apply a sentence.

Cut off the supply and minimize the access opportunities. The only ones hurt by this is the bars and liquor retailers. Alcohol is the dominant poison in society and the impact on families is devastating yet we continue to allow the abusers access.

Ask most people who have gone thru these programs and they will describe them as absolutely lame.

Have a good one Markoo

Liberty275 2 years, 8 months ago

Interlocks on first offenders are unconstitutional. One occasion of breaking a mid-level law is not enough to justify repeatedly searching someone, and these horrible little devices are nothing but illegal search robots. The only reason they haven't been made illegal is because the government cannot force you to own a car.

If you agreed to put one of those things on your car after being found guilty one time, I feel for you. It would be a hard decision for me. OTOH, You gotta stop drinking and driving. Those days are over.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.