Pennsylvania has come up with what may be a reasonable solution to deal with repeat drunk driving offenses. In a bid to keep first-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders (and to keep repeat offenders off the roads), the state’s proposed bill would mandate that drunk drivers use ignition interlock devices and blow a sample every time they start their vehicle.
In 2013, more than 5,600 ignition interlock devices were installed in vehicles in Pennsylvania. But more than 48,200 Pennsylvanians were arrested for DUI. By making these devices mandatory after a first offense, the state aims to decrease the number of drunk drivers on the roads.
Another new bill that deals with drunk drivers outlines a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for repeat DUI offenders guilty of causing a fatal crash while inebriated.
On the surface, these two pieces of legislation sound like they may be effective. But opponents suggest that the motivation for such legislation is to get cashback from ignition interlock installers.
The core of the debate is not so much what may work to curtail drunk driving, but what to do with an individual with a serious drinking problem who keeps drinking no matter what.
Laws can be passed. Programs launched. Penalties can be increased. Prison time may be extended. Unless drunk drivers want to quit drinking of their own volition and are not forced into going dry by the law, the problem continues. Every state has the same issues with its drunk drivers. Ultimately, drinking and driving remain a social addiction. Frequently, it is poorly addressed by legal sanctions.