Earlier this week, Alabama became the 21st state to enact an all-offender ignition interlock law, which will go into effect in 3 months. The passage of this law is a momentous step toward reducing drunk driving in Alabama, considering the state’s interlock law and drunk driving history.
In 2011, Alabama was the last state to enact an ignition interlock law, which required first-time drunk driving offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher and all repeat offenders to install interlocks. However, the law was never implemented. The next year, over 250 people died from drunk driving-related traffic crashes that could have been prevented had convicted drunk drivers been using interlocks.
The newly enacted ignition interlock law will implement the 2011 law and expand ignition interlock installation to include first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.14 will install the device to receive limited driving privileges during their license suspension period and must keep the device installed for six months.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President Jan Withers personally thanked the law’s authors, Rep. Allen Farley and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, for creating the laws and the Alabama legislature for not only implementing the 2011 interlock law but expanding it to include all convicted DUI offenders.
Urging the state to implement the 2011 law and enact the new law has been a top priority for MADD. The organization reports that states with all-offender ignition interlock laws have reduced drunk driving deaths by 20% or more. Oregon and Arizona have seen the highest reduction in drunk driving fatalities, which have been reduced by 42% and 43%, respectively. We hope to see a similar decline in drunk driving fatalities in Alabama now that all convicted drunk driving offenders are required to install an interlock.