MADD Testifies in Favor of Lifesaving Ignition Interlock Legislation

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will testify before the Assembly Appropriations Committee urging their support of A 1368 on Monday, June 23rd at 9 AM. A 1368, introduced by Assemblywoman Stender, will require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including all first-time offenders. Similar legislation has been passed in 23 states and these states have recognized a significant reduction in drunk driving deaths.

“MADD believes ignition interlocks for all offenders is the best solution to eliminate drunk driving across the Nation. New Jersey lawmakers have the opportunity to advance this lifesaving legislation that will protect the public from drunk drivers,” said MADD New Jersey Volunteer and National Board Member Steven Benvenisti, Esq., Partner at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, PC, who was almost killed by a drunk driver when he attended The College of New Jersey.

Drunk driving is a violent crime. And, drunk deaths are 100 percent preventable. Yet in 2012, 164

people in New Jersey were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver—representing 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. In addition to the extraordinary emotional burden for victims, drunk driving deaths are an unnecessary economic hardship for New Jersey, costing the state and taxpayers $1.1 billion in 2012.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that (1) requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers saves lives and is effective in reducing drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent; (2) license suspension alone is no longer a practical way to deal with drunk drivers, as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended driver’s license; and (3) first-time convicted DUI offender is not a first time drunk driver

but rather has driven drunk at least 80 times prior to being arrested.

Currently in New Jersey, interlocks are required for all repeat and first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater.  Passage of A 1368 would require a first-time convicted drunk driver with a BAC of .08 to .14 to use an ignition interlock for a period of three to twelve months unless a Judge determines that aggravating factors dictate that a license suspension would be more appropriate.  The last third of the time on the interlock must be violation free or the offender will have the time on the interlock extended. A 1368 will help change behavior separate alcohol from driving. Interlocked offenders are able to their jobs and provide for their families.

“MADD’s number one legislative priority is to pass lifesaving laws to ensure the public’s safety and eliminate drunk driving. A 1368 makes sense, ignition interlocks for all offenders will save lives,” continued Benvenisti.

States that are enforcing all-offender ignition interlock laws, such as Arizona and Oregon, have seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 43 to 42 percent, largely due to these comprehensive laws requiring all drunk drivers to receive an interlock.

For more information on interlocks, please visit madd.org/interlock.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP.  Learn more at www.madd.org  or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.