Data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that drunk driving is a culprit in more than one in three traffic deaths that occur in Louisiana, which is even higher than the United States’ average. House Bill 580, currently awaiting a full hearing in the state legislature after passing the Transportation Committee, seeks to tighten the current law regarding ignition interlock devices in the interest of preventing repeat DWIs.
When installed on a vehicle, an ignition interlock device requires a driver to blow into the mechanism before being able to start the car. The device analyzes the driver’s breath to determine blood alcohol content, and if the level is higher than a certain benchmark, the driver is unable to start the car. Under the current law, the blood alcohol threshold is 0.2, but the proposed bill would lower it to 0.15.
Ignition interlock devices have been in use on those convicted of drunk driving since 2007. The proposed law would close a loophole allowing those convicted to opt for license suspension in lieu of the IID. Under the proposed bill, those convicted of DWI would see ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles in addition to any license suspension. The law would also mandate a camera on the device so drivers would not be able to hoodwink it by having someone else blow into it.
An incident last month led to many questions about how drivers could remain on the road with a history of DWI arrests. The incident involved the arrest of a man for whom it was reportedly the sixth DWI in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The hope is that, by cracking down, the proposed bill could prevent multiple DWI arrests and potentially save lives in the process. In the meantime, however, those injured in an accident involving a drunk driver may find it helpful to retain the services of an attorney.