HARRISBURG, PA (March 15, 2016) — Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and families of DUI victims in Pennsylvania joined Senator John Rafferty, Representative Keith Greiner and other members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to urge support for ignition interlocks for drunk drivers after their first conviction.
The Pennsylvania Senate has already unanimously passed SB 290 by Senator Rafferty. Representative Greiner authored a similar bill, HB 278. Both bills require convicted drunk drivers with illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 or greater to use ignition interlocks for at least 12 months for first time offenders. Under current law, second and subsequent offenders are also required to use ignition interlocks for 12 months.
MADD Pennsylvania Program Director Malcolm Friend called on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to pass the ignition interlock legislation and send it to the governor to sign into law. “Clearly, more must be done in Pennsylvania and across the nation to end drunk driving,” said Friend. “We know ignition interlocks work. MADD calls on all members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to support this proven countermeasure to the 100-percent preventable crime of drunk driving.”
Due in part to similar laws passed in other states, drunk driving deaths have declined dramatically and at a better pace than the national average. Arizona and West Virginia have seen a 50 percent and 40 percent reduction, respectively, in drunk driving deaths since passing all-offender interlock laws.
“I am pleased to partner with MADD today to reinforce the need and importance of Senate Bill 290 that passed the Senate and is pending action in the House,” said Senator Rafferty, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “This bill is smart on crime and provides additional provisions related to the use of ignition interlocks in Pennsylvania to save lives and allow offenders of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to continue driving to work, school, etc. in a controlled environment.”
In 2014, 345 people were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver in Pennsylvania.
“DUI-related tragedies are far too common across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is my hope that ignition interlock legislation will prevent such tragedies from happening again and ultimately save lives. It is time to solve this issue once and for all,” said Greiner. “Ending drunk-driving tragedies is an issue that is not touched by partisanship or ideology and I am hopeful that ignition interlock legislation will be signed into law this year. I am thankful for MADD’s efforts to move this legislation forward.”
For the first time, MADD has collected data on how many times ignition interlock have stopped someone from driving drunk. The numbers are startling: Across the nation, ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million drunk driving attempts.
In Pennsylvania, where ignition interlocks are only required for repeat offenders, ignition interlocks have stopped 78,210 attempts to drive drunk. “Imagine how many of those drunk drivers were prevented from harming someone close to one of us. Now, imagine how many more drunk drivers could be prevented if our Legislature passes SB 290 and HB 278,” Friend said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.
SB 290 and HB 278 follow the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and every major traffic safety organization, including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Thirty-eight states have laws that require interlocks for some level of first-time offenders. Twenty-five states, including Delaware and New York, require these devices for all first-time convicted drunk drivers.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD changed American culture by introducing the “designated driver” in 1986 and related red ribbon awareness campaign Tie One On For Safety® now in its 30th year. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is marking its 10th anniversary and reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent since its launch. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, providing a service every four minutes through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Power of Parents® and Power of Youth® programs reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.