Stronger interlock device laws in NC may decrease drunk driving accidents

North Carolina does not require interlock devices for all convicted DUI offenders; however, some believe that the state should enact such a law.

Drunk drivers continue to take the lives of innocent North Carolina residents, as well as Americans across the country. Despite certain state and federal laws restricting motorists from driving while intoxicated, many people continue to do so. Not only do these negligent drivers put their own lives at risk, they endanger the safety of everyone else on the road. Although North Carolina has certain policies in place for convicted drunk drivers, advocates of ignition interlock devices claim that the state's IID regulations, if made stronger, could save lives.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 290,000 people sustained injuries and 10,076 people lost their lives in drunk driving car accidents in 2013. Approximately 371 of those deaths occurred in North Carolina, making up nearly 29 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the state. Some of these preventable deaths were caused by drunk drivers who have driven while intoxicated before. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that people who are convicted of a DUI for the first time have driven an average of 80 times prior to being arrested.

How interlock devices can help

Research shows that up to 75 percent of convicted DUI offenders continue to operate a vehicle with a suspended driver's license, as reported by MADD. Ignition interlock devices, on the other hand, make it nearly impossible for intoxicated motorists to start and drive their vehicles. This has led to a 67 percent decrease in the number of repeat DUI offenders, according to the CDC.

Currently there are 24 states in the nation, and four counties in California, that require all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a specified period of time. Some states in the nation, including West Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana have seen more than a 35 percent decrease in the drunk driving fatality rate after requiring IID use for all convicted drunk drivers. North Carolina does not enforce such a policy, but some residents are urging state lawmakers to enact similar legislation.

Keeping intoxicated drivers off the streets

Before a driver can start a vehicle that is equipped with an interlock device, they must submit a breath sample through a tube that is attached to the device. The IID calculates the driver's blood alcohol content level, and will not allow the car to start if the BAC measures over a preset level. Once the vehicle is started, the driver must continue to submit random breath tests throughout the drive. If the driver misses a breath test or blows a breath sample that exceeds the preset BAC limit, an alarm will sound alerting the driver to pull over and turn the car off.

Legal assistance may be necessary

People who are injured in a drunk driving car accident have rights. You should not have to suffer because of another driver's negligence. You may want to contact a personal injury attorney in North Carolina who will listen to the details of your case and help you choose the right course of action.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury