Study Suggests that Drunk Driving Deaths could be Reduced by 85 Percent with Ignition Interlock Devices

Drunk driving is a serious problem in every city in the nation, and unfortunately, Chicago is no exception. With a presumed level of intoxication when blood alcohol content (“BAC”) reaches or exceeds .08, it may not take many drinks for a motorist to reach the level where he or she is a threat to public safety. Drivers in the Chicago area should be aware that simply having a BAC under the state limit of .08 does not mean that they are safe to drive or that they are not breaking the law – in fact, any amount of alcohol or other intoxicating substance can lead to criminal charges against a driver if the intoxicant limits the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe, reasonable manner.

Driving drunk is an offense that threatens harm to the drunk driver, any passengers in that driver’s car, and others on the roadway. The offense becomes even worse if a crash happens and if that drunk driver becomes responsible for injuries or even deaths sustained by others. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving accidents in 2013 alone, a number that accounted for 31 percent of all fatalities on American roadways that year.

Drunk driving is an epidemic and it is a widely accepted threat to the personal safety of everyone who uses the roadways in Chicago. But while there is agreement of the dangers presented by drunk driving accidents, there has been less consensus about what steps should be taken to reduce or eliminate these crashes.

A 2015 study out of the University of Michigan may provide a new avenue for discussion as it concludes that implementation of ignition interlock devices may reduce alcohol-related fatalities by up to 85 percent. These devices, often abbreviated IIDs, work by creating a block between the ignition of a vehicle and that vehicle’s engine. To enable the car to start, the driver of the vehicle must blow into a tube which detects the presence or absence of alcohol on the user’s breath. If a certain level of alcohol is detected, the IID will prevent the vehicle from starting, often for a lengthy time. Without power to the car, an impaired driver will be prevented from driving drunk and therefore will be unable to cause a car accident.

IIDs have been around for decades but have become more popular in recent years as they are being used more widely among those with DUI convictions. But to save even more lives, the new study suggests that IIDs should become standard among all new manufactured cars, much like seat belts or air bags, so that drunk driving can be prevented even among those who have never been convicted of the offense in the past.

Some in the industry believe that this move would make a substantial impact on American safety, saving not only thousands of lives but preventing many more injuries each year. Further, the economic toll enacted by drunk driving would be substantially reduced and the American taxpayers would be relieved of some of that burden. Jails would be less crowded with drunk driving offenders, courts would be less congested, and motorists would not have to worry about whether drunk drivers were near them, posing a risk of harm.

However, this technology, like all technology, is not perfect. As a national incident recently illustrated, a drunk driver may be able to have a sober passenger blow into the IID, enabling a vehicle to start with a drunk operator behind the wheel.

Until all motorists stop drinking and driving, collisions involving drunk drivers will keep happening in Chicago and across the State of Illinois and will cause harm to innocent victims. If you were injured in a crash with a drunk driver or if someone you love was killed in a collision, make sure your legal rights are protected by contacting a personal injury lawyer today.

If you are interested in a free case consultation, call the legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. now toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and talk to one of our lawyers. There is no obligation on your part and everything discussed will be kept confidential. Further, we have an attorney available 24/7 to speak with you so please contact us on your schedule to learn about your rights and your options.

Prior Blog Entry:

Home Hit in 5 Separate Car Accidents Illustrates Problems with Dangerous Intersections, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 13, 2015.

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