Ignition interlock devices help to save lives in West Virginia

West Virginia’s ignition interlock device program has helped to decrease the state’s DUI fatality rate, and helps to keep motorists safe on the roadways.

When motorists make the irresponsible decision to drink and drive in West Virginia, they put other people's lives in danger. Approximately 95 people were killed in drunk driving car accidents in 2012, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which represented 28 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the state. These drunk driving fatalities cost taxpayers $437 million that year alone. In an attempt to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths that occur in the state, West Virginia lawmakers enacted legislation requiring all convicted DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

The facts about ignition interlock devices

Ignition interlock devices, according to the Century Council, keep drunk drivers off of the road by prohibiting use of the their vehicles while they are intoxicated. A small breath test analyzer, which determines the driver's blood alcohol content level, is installed in the vehicle's ignition system.

The offender must submit a clean breath sample in order to start the car, and then continue to submit samples periodically throughout the drive in order to keep the car going. If the breath test analyzer measures a BAC level that is over the preset amount, the car will not start and the information will be transferred to law enforcement during the offender's next interlock device maintenance appointment. If the offender submits a breath test with a high BAC while the car is in motion, an alarm will sound alerting the driver to turn the vehicle off.

Are interlock devices effective?

Interlock devices have proven to be extremely effective at lowering the drunk driving accidents and DUI fatality rate in states that have implemented a mandatory program requiring all convicted DUI offenders to use the devices. According to MADD, West Virginia alone has seen a 33 percent decrease in drunk driving deaths, and many other states have had similar success with the program. Arizona has seen a 43 percent reduction in DUI deaths, while Alaska's rate declined by 28 percent.

Many states penalize drunk drivers by suspending or revoking their driver's licenses. However, MADD reported that as many as 75 percent of DUI offenders continue to drive even without a driver's license. Interlock devices keep these offenders off of the roads while they are intoxicated.

Helping victims of drunk driving accidents

People who have survived a serious car accident caused by an intoxicated driver may be left with more than just physical injuries. They may suffer from emotional trauma, financial difficulties, property damage and the inability to work. It is crucial to hold negligent drunk drivers responsible for their actions. A personal injury attorney can offer vital legal counsel to people who have been injured or lost a loved one in a drunk driving auto accident.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury