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Ignition interlock devices reduce drunk driving risks

illinoiss, like most states, requires first-time DUI offenders to have ignition interlock devices fitted to their vehicles. Many road safety advocates believe that these devices can deter repeat drunk driving and save lives, and a new study from the Colorado School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health seems to add weight to these arguments. The study, which was published in the April 2017 edition of the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine," suggests that the number of drunk driving accidents falls by 7 percent when mandatory ignition interlock laws are put into place.

According to the study, ignition interlock devices have saved an estimated 1,250 lives since the first law mandating their use was passed in 1993. The devices, which work in a similar way to roadside breathalyzer tests, prevent vehicles from starting when alcohol is detected in the breath samples provided. After studying the impact that interlock legislation has had across the country, the researchers concluded that laws requiring the installation of these devices in the vehicles of all drunk driving offenders were far more effective.

The researchers gauged the effectiveness of ignition interlock laws by studying drunk driving accident statistics compiled by NHTSA between 1982 and 2013. More than 25 states have passed laws requiring the use of these devices by all DUI offenders since 2005. In illinoiss, about 12,000 individuals have ignition interlock devices fitted to their vehicles at any given time.

A criminal law attorney will likely support measures that take a preventative and rehabilitative approach to drunk driving defendants. However, they could also argue that the costs of installing ignition interlock devices and monitoring their use should be fair.

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