BOSTON -- In 2011, 114 people were killed by drunk drivers on Massachusetts roads. This represents 34 percent of all highway deaths and is above the national average.
Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) testified before the Joint Judiciary Committee in support of H 1278. The bill, sponsored by Representative Costello, incentivizes the use of ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers.
"MADD calls on the Joint Judiciary Committee to advance H 1278 improving upon Melanie's Law," said MADD Massachusetts volunteer Ron Bersani. "This legislation will help save lives, prevent injuries and stop repeat offenses."
"Ignition interlocks are proven effective," said NTSB Board Member Mark Rosekind. "Once seen as a sanction for repeat offenders, they're now part of a comprehensive strategy on eliminating alcohol-impaired driving as the NTSB and others recommend. This is why we support House Bill 1278," continued Rosekind.
In 2003, Ron Bersani's 13-year-old granddaughter Melanie Powell was killed by a drunk driver. As a result of Melanie's Law, which went into effect in 2006, Massachusetts requires ignition interlocks for all repeat drunk drivers. H 1278 expands the current law to require the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers at a .08 BAC or greater who choose to drive following conviction. This gives drunk drivers with an interlock the ability to keep their jobs and provide for their family or keep going to school while at the same time protecting the public.
Currently, there are 20 states with similar laws to H 1278, including New York and Connecticut, which require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers at a BAC of .08.
"Ignition interlocks are a more effective approach to stopping DWI compared to license revocation alone," said MADD National President Jan Withers.
License suspension alone is not the best approach as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ignition interlocks, on average, reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent compared to license suspension alone.
Studies show that a first-time convicted drunk driver is not a first-time offender, but rather it is simply the first time they have been caught. First-time offenders have driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are convicted.
MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING