Iowa is no stranger to drunk driving or the horrific headlines that go along with it. Iowa also has more of a reputation for intoxicated residents than even Florida, despite the focus in the media. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the percentage of adults with an Iowa OWI was 3.1%, a full 1.2% above the national average of 1.9% (Florida sits at 2.1%). However, the difference between Florida and Iowa is that Iowa seems to be doing something about it.
A coalition within Iowa is attempting to change how the state deals with drivers operating under the influence (OWI), as well as the businesses that serve them alcohol and the officers in charge of apprehending them. The “Iowa Statewide Impaired Driving Plan” dictates 66 different proposals (with different approaches addressing Iowa OWI prevention, enforcement, education and adjudication) to help bring drunk driving to an end. Some of these proposals include:
- More saturation patrols by law enforcement.
- Mandating participation in Iowa’s Program for Alcohol Compliance Training for anyone who serves alcohol in the state.
- Requiring businesses to provide designated drivers for intoxicated customers.
- Urging law enforcement agencies to enforce over-serving laws, training officers to more accurate detect alcohol/drug-impaired drivers.
- Implementing the Place of Last Drink program, which collects data on where people who are arrested for DWIs had their last drink.
Another consideration is the expansion of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) across the state, allowing even a first-offense OWI offender to access the device, in some cases, even before a court hearing. Iowa has tried to expand its IID access twice in two years, with bills stalling in the state legislature.
As the entire US recovers from the stress and frustration that is Election 2016, and gets back to the business of attempting to keep us all safe, we can only support any and all efforts that prevent drinking and driving. Safe and sober is the only way anyone should be behind the wheel.