Drunk driving and beyond: Should ignition interlocks be standard in all cars?

Via KRQE News 13:

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is being used as a national example in the fight against drunk driving, but this time it’s for the positive results of the state ignition-interlock law.
So far New Mexico is the only state in the nation to pass a law which requires first-time DWI offenders to have an ignition-interlock installed on their vehicles.

Today the national headquarters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving announced it wants this to become a requirement in all 50 states.

“The main reason people continue to drive drunk today is because they can and because we let them” MADD president Glynn Birch said at a Washington news conference. “MADD believes, and 65 percent of America agrees with us, that first-time offenders need and deserve an alcohol ignition interlock.””

The interlocks require a driver to blow into the device which only allows the car to start if it does not detect alcohol.

According to MADD, the interlock device has shown great promise in New Mexico and it believes this technology and other enforcement activities can eventually wipe out drunk driving.

Officials of the local MADD chapter told KRQE News 13 they have been working with the national organization for months on the issue.

Doesn’t sound like a bad idea, right? Well read on:

The idea to spread the interlock program nationwide came in June when MADD representatives and law enforcement officers from around the nation came to New Mexico to look at new DWI technology. MADD would also like to take the technology one step further.

“The second part of the plan is working with the auto manufacturers and looking at interlocks being standard device that would be in a vehicle” Terry Huertaz of New Mexico MADD said. “Saab has already developed a prototype and in that country, in certain countries, these mechanisms and tools are already being used.

I think having these as “standard” in all vehicles would be a bad idea, for several reasons, primarily being: why should they be? Why should people nationwide have to pay for the crimes of those who do drink and drive? Another reason is the safety factor: what if you’re trying to get away from someone following and/or chasing you in a parking lot, and you make it to your car but have to wait to start it because you have to blow into a tube. That is precious seconds you could be getting away wasted.

I have a feeling that if MADD doesn’t get what it’s asking for with auto manufacturers nationwide, it’s going to take this to Congress. And, much like hate crime laws, this would be one of those “feel good laws” that politicians would have a hard time saying no to – especially because the advocacy comes from a sympathetic group.

In the meantime, here’s what Fresno, California is doing to crack down on drunk driving. Some think it may go too far. Others think it’s worth pushing the “legal limits” to catch drunk drivers.

What are your thoughts on what MADD is advocating and what Fresno is doing?

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