A whopping 93% of American voters consider drunk driving a serious problem and 69% support laws requiring drunk drivers to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs), according to new survey findings from Sober Driving Solutions.
Moreover, 73% of voters said they would feel safer if drunk drivers were required to install an ignition interlock.
The broad public support for ignition interlocks comes at a time when the country has experienced a 14% increase in annual drunk driving deaths, notes the traffic safety coalition behind the survey. IIDs test a driver’s breath alcohol concentration before their vehicle starts. If the device detects an alcohol level greater than the legal limit, the engine will not start.
While all 50 states have an ignition interlock law in place, each state’s mandates are unique, and every case is different.
For example, several states require only certain drivers convicted of a second or repeat drunk driving charge to install an ignition interlock device. Other states require those with a first-time drunk driving conviction to get an ignition interlock if they had a certain blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level when they were arrested (typically over .10 or .15). Still other states require a period where an offender cannot drive at all.
These variations mean there is ample room for state and federal policymakers to expand the use of IIDs — a proven, effective, and available technology to combat impaired driving. Indeed, many safety advocates would like to see every state implement “all-offender laws” that require all first-time and subsequent offenders to install an interlock before they are allowed to get behind the wheel again after an impaired driving conviction.
This latest survey indicates that a large majority of the voting public agrees. The survey polled 1,825 registered voters nationwide. According to the findings, support for IID requirements for drunk driving offenders is demographically widespread, with overwhelming support coming from men and women, Republicans and Democrats, and all ethnicities and age groups.
Every day, approximately 32 people in the U.S. die in drunk driving collision. That translates to one person every 45 minutes, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2020 alone, 11,654 people lost their lives in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes — a 14% increase over 2019.