Ignition kill is part of drunken driving bill
The fight against drunken driving could soon have a new weapon.
Hawaii's Republican lawmakers said they will introduce a bill this year requiring people convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol to pay for and install an ignition interlock system on their vehicles. The system measures blood-alcohol content before allowing a vehicle to start.
Ignition interlock systems reduce repeat drunken driving offenses by 50 percent to 95 percent and have been approved in all but five states, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"People are drinking and driving because they can," said Arkie Koehl, of MADD Hawaii, "and we have technology that can stop most of them."
Ignition interlock is among a set of stiffer penalties unveiled yesterday by Republicans that they say will reduce the number of alcohol-related fatalities in Hawaii, which has climbed from an average of 51 deaths per year between 1999 and 2002 to 73 deaths per year from 2002 to 2006, according to MADD. The group says Hawaii leads the nation in the percentage of traffic fatalities involving alcohol.
Republican lawmakers are proposing to double the amount of time people convicted of driving drunk lose their licenses. They are also calling for DUI convictions to include 72 hours of community service, two to five days of imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. The legislation also proposes stiffer penalties for traffic violations that endanger pedestrians.
"Getting tough is a prevention measure," said Rep. Lynn Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village), flanked by other Republicans during a morning press conference.
Finnegan said Republicans also plan to introduce a resolution encouraging bars and restaurants to have breathalyzers.
"Our goal is to create safe and sober streets for the people of Hawaii," she said.