Drunk driving is one of the deadliest yet most preventable behaviors that accounts for nearly one-third of the nation’s traffic crash fatalities. Alcohol-impaired driving deaths have skyrocketed 31% in just two years, rising from 10,196 in 2019 to 13,384 in 2021.
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs), which prevent a vehicle’s engine from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath, are a proven and effective tool for significantly reducing drunk driving. State laws dictating when IIDs may be removed from drunk driving offenders’ vehicles can help reduce repeat offenses, according to a research study from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Currently, all states have some type of IID program, with 33 states and the District of Columbia having a compliance-based removal (CBR) law. Under a CBR law, drivers with an IID installed in their vehicle must have a certain number of violation-free days before the device can be removed. After surveying all states to determine which had the ability to provide reliable, accurate and complete data in a timely manner, researchers focused on two states with CBR laws – Tennessee and Washington – and two states without – Arkansas and Iowa.
Their analysis of the state-supplied data for the period January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2019, found that the alcohol-impaired driving recidivism rates in Tennessee and Washington were 1.7% and 3.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, the recidivism rates for the two states without CBR statutes – Arkansas (5.6%) and Iowa (6%) – were higher. While there are several factors that can affect drunk driving recidivism, the data indicate that CBR requirements can be a promising tool to address these high-risk drivers and that states without these laws should consider implementing them.
The study was funded by Consumer Safety Technology, LLC (CST Holdings) and Intoxalock Ignition Interlocks. Neither were involved in the independent research, which was conducted by Tara Casanova Powell, Principal, Casanova Powell Consulting, and Dr. Ryan C. Smith under contract with GHSA.