On June 29, 2012, the U.S. Congress passed a meaningful bipartisan bill.
Yes, it did!
And it may be the only major bill to be passed by this session of Congress, at least before the election in November. The House approved the bill by a significant 373-52 vote, demonstrating the power of highway politics. The Senate approved it 74-19.
Among the various components of the bill is a major feature that will require that future drivers convicted of a DUI offense be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on their cars for a period of at least 6 months.
An ignition interlock device is a piece of equipment, which includes a breath analyzer that is attached to the ignition of a car. It requires that the potential operator of the car breathe into the device, and if the breath analyzer reading is acceptable, the car engine will start.
This is seen as a major step in reducing the number of alcohol related deaths and injuries on our highways. It has been widely supported by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and other traffic safety groups including IOGT members. Over 15 states already have had some sort of IID system in place now for a couple of years so this isn’t really a new idea. The major feature of this bill is that it will apply to all 50 states and have a consistent pattern of administering and evaluating the activities thereof.
Major details regarding the implementation of this bill have yet to be finalized – and giving the closeness of the upcoming election, it will probably not be until at least early next year before we know more about how this idea will be carried out. Reducing alcohol related auto deaths and injuries should be a no-brainer, but it is often amazing the deliberations that become necessary to win such a battle.
Opposition to this bill included the American Beverage Institute (ABI) who says that this bill is “designed to end social drinking in America” (Restaurant Trade Group Denounces Conference Committee Plan).
Actually, this bill is likely to result in the greater use of “designated drivers” and has the potential of increasing social drinking for others.
Other opposition to this bill fought a provision to fund the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). This is a federal program working to create an alcohol detection system for installation as standard equipment in all cars. Once the technology issues are worked out, the ultimate goal of this program would be to equip all passenger vehicles with this technology.
It would be interesting to know what experiences other countries have had if they have also required an IID for those who have been arrested for DUI offenses. Please comment below if your country has had any experience with these devices.