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Interlock law might make roads safer


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Drunken drivers in Hawaii won't go if they fail in their alcohol blow.

State transportation officials are asking for proposals for an alcohol ignition interlock device service that prevents arrested drunken drivers from starting their vehicles until they pass a breath alcohol test.

The breath alcohol analyzer is tied to the ignition system of the vehicle, and any measurable amount of alcohol would prevent the car from starting.

The group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers said Hawaii is one of only five states where an ignition interlock law is not in place.

MADD Director Jennifer Dotson said the state has historically been ranked worst in the nation in the percentage of fatal traffic crashes that are alcohol-related.

“;We believe some are choosing to drink and drive because they can,”; Dotson said.

Under the law, which becomes effective Jan. 1, persons found to be drunk while driving would be required to blow into the device in order to start their vehicles.

Attaching an interlock device would reduce repeat offenses by an estimated 50 to 90 percent and alcohol-related fatalities by 7 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Use of the interlock system was authorized in a 2008 law that had to be fine-tuned last year.

State transportation officials are awaiting the passage of a bill that would require offenders to pay for the interlock system.