As a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) research consultant, I have been researching the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interlock laws for over ten years.
There are several myths regarding ignition interlocks for first-time drunk driving offenders that need to be addressed to understand why this technology should be mandated for all DWI offenders.
Myth 1: First offenders have driven drunk only once before their arrest.
My research of drunk drivers at Victim Impact Panels shows that first offenders have driven drunk a median of 100 times before their first arrest. They are not first offenders; they are â€œfirst caught.â€
Myth 2: First offenders are a negligible part of the drunk driving problem.
First offenders are the largest part of the drunk driving problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they comprise over 60% of those arrested and up to 91% of those in fatal alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
Myth 3: First offenders are less likely to be re-arrested than subsequent offenders.
Data from New Mexico shows that first offenders have a re-arrest rate similar to that of subsequent offenders. and eight times higher than the arrest rate of those with no priors.
Myth 4: License revocation is a more effective sanction than interlocks
The re-arrest rate of interlocked first offenders is one fourth that of non-interlocked first offenders whose licenses are revoked.
Myth 5: Interlocks cost too much
Offenders pay the cost of interlocks, which is less than a third of the economic benefit of lives saved, and crashes and injuries prevented. As opposed to costing too much, interlocks are actually cost effective.
Myth 6: Interlocks are not a fair penalty for DWI
Even the majority of DWI offenders agree that theyâ€™re a fair penalty. Over 80% of 13,554 convicted DWI offenders agreed in anonymous surveys before DWI Victim Impact Panels.
Based on my work and research, mandatory ignition interlocks for first-time offenders save lives, prevent injuries and reduce DWI crashes.
To read more of Dr. Rothâ€™s research, please visit his web sites which include www.ImpactDWI.org, www.RothInterlock.org, and www.PEDAforTeens.org. Dr. Roth can be reached at [email protected]