RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that all states require ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders.
The request comes less than a year after Virginia lawmakers passed legislation requiring all convicted drunk drivers to adhere to such regulations.
“I suspect what we’ll see is this gradually becoming law in all 50 states,” said Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin, (D)Henrico.
The five-member NTSB argued that the law is the best available solution to reducing drunk driving deaths.
Studies show one-third of the nation’s 32,000 traffic deaths each year are caused by drunk drivers, many who are repeat offenders.
Ignition interlock devices prevent drivers from starting their vehicle unless they are sober.
The safety board cited an internal study that found some 360 people a year are killed in wrong-way crashes. The study said that 69 percent of the drivers in those cases had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit.
Virginia MADD Director Chris Konschak said he applauds the NTSB’s decision.
“It’s something MADD believes strongly in,” Konschak argued. “MADD is working across the country, not just in Virginia, to make sure all states have mandatory ignition interlock laws for all DUI offenders.”
While MADD said it’s too soon to tell the law’s impact in Virginia, states like Arizona and Oregon have seen the number of drunk driving deaths cut by more than half.
The device cost offenders $60 to $70 to install and roughly $60 a month, for six months, in monitoring fees.
While some lawmakers continue to argue it’s a costly law, MADD says those costs will never be passed down to the taxpayer.
Companies that monitor drunk drivers pick up the expense for offenders who can’t afford to pay for the device.
“Weigh the cost of life, weigh the cost to society, Konschak argued. “That $60 or $70 dollars doesn’t seem like that much money.”