Opinion: Drinking & Driving

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: the Case against IID Mandates

In over 30 years of service as a state and nationally based judicial educator concerning impaired driving and sentencing issues, I have found that judges, given information, access to research, discretion, and opportunity, would strive to sentence impaired drivers as individuals. We judges realize that there is no single sentencing modality that is best suited to address rehabilitative and deterrence goals in every case. We realize that some sentencing modalities may actually be counterproductive.

Such is the case where Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are mandated for first-time offenders with alcohol test levels under.15%, who have been assessed not to require treatment. In their cases, mandating judges to impose IIDs simply adds an unnecessary economic burden; a burden over and above already costly education, assessment, probation, and relicensing fees. Many such offenders resort to claiming indigency or simply continue to drive without a license in order to maintain employment. In states that mandate IIDs for all first-time offenders, indigency funds to provide IIDs are being depleted with a resultant drain on states’ revenue. IIDs come with a price that judges recognize but that is often overlooked by those in the legislative and executive branches.

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are an important tool that judges can employ to improve sentencing outcomes, particularly with respect to reducing impaired driver recidivism. They are well suited in the cases of hardcore drunk drivers, who statistically are more likely to reoffend and who present a clear and proven danger to public safety in terms of causing fatal crashes. As with all sentencing modalities t here is no single one that is best suited to all types of impaired drivers. IIDs for hardcore, high BAC, multiple offenders makes sense. Mandating IIDs for all first-time offenders does not.

The foregoing represents my personal views on the topic of IIDs and not the position or opinion of any institution, organization, or entity with which I may be affiliated. I will carry out any laws that require imposition of Ignition Interlock Devices, although I may not agree with their wisdom or appropriateness.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits

The hazards of drinking and driving increase in parallel with blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Most countries have set BAC limits for drivers between .05 and .08 percent, and some have different limits for different categories of drivers. Hardcore drunk drivers - repeat offenders and those with BACs above .15 - pose the greatest threat.

Boating Under the Influence

On the road or on the water, you’re headed nowhere fast while impaired. Alcohol use is the leading known contributor in recreational boater fatalities as well as a primary factor in accidents and injuries on the water. Operation Dry Water is dedicated to raising awareness and educating recreational boaters about the dangers of operating a boat under the influence. Since the launch of Operation Dry Water, there has been a 27% decrease in recreational boater deaths where alcohol use was the primary contributing factor.

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