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First time DUI interlock law stuck in PA House

Drunk driving is bad. One can describe it in many more ways, but at its core, it is simply bad. It is so insidiously dangerous, because it both leaves a person with diminished ability to operate a motor vehicle and it enables it to happen by reducing one's capacity to recognize that one has that reduced ability.

Nationally, thousands die every year in these deadly drunk driving accidents. Incarceration only works in the most egregious circumstances, as Pennsylvania could not afford to imprison every driver arrested for a DUI in the course of a year.

In 2012, there were 11,956 alcohol related motor vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania, so locking up everyone would be impracticable. However, merely suspending driver's licenses is less than effective, as many of those people reoffend.

The most practical solution is on the cusp of being implemented in this state. A bill has passed the Senate, but it is tied up in the Pennsylvania House, that would require that all first time DUI offenders install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

An ignition interlock is essentially a breath-testing device that is connected to the vehicle's ignition system. The driver must provide a breath sample prior to starting the vehicle and again at random times while the car is being driven.

Laws like this have been enacted in other states with very positive results, lowering their DUI-related highway fatalities by 33 percent. It would be very unfortunate if the House fails to act and send the legislation to the governor's desk for signing, as this law will save lives.

The Mercury, "EDITORIAL: Pa. House fails to pass common-sense DUI law," October 25, 2014

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