Topeka — Alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped 30 percent since a strong ignition interlock law went into effect, advocates of the law said today.
"Our progress in the fight to eliminate drunk driving in Kansas is significant," said Chris Mann, who is chair of the advisory board for Kansas Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "Through MADD's work with lawmakers and law enforcement, we are making Kansas roads safer for everyone."
In 2011, the Legislature enacted a law requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers. The law requires a DUI offender to install an ignition interlock, or in-car breathalyzer, device. The driver must blow into the device to prove he or she is sober before the car will start.
Research indicates that requiring an ignition interlock for all drunken driving offenders reduces repeat offenses by two-thirds and significantly cuts the number of drunken driving deaths, MADD said.
In Kansas, the number of drunken driving deaths has fallen from 138 in 2010 to 94 in 2012.
Of the 20 states that have passed similar ignition interlock laws, Kansas is one of only three that put in a sunset provision.
MADD urged the Legislature to repeal the sunset provision, which would take effect on July 1, 2015 — meaning interlock devices would no longer be required.
"Lawmakers must allow more lives to be saved by taking action in 2014 to eliminate the sunset clause of this lifesaving interlock law," said MADD National President Jan Withers.