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Colorado’s DUI Death Rate Decline Attributed to Interlock Devices

April 7, 2015 by The Sawaya Law Firm

Colorado’s law requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device has helped to reduce the state’s DUI fatality rate.

Drunk drivers take the lives of innocent Americans every year. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, approximately 10,076 lives were lost and 290,000 people sought medical attention for injuries obtained in DUI car accidents nationwide in 2013. In Colorado alone, 142 people were killed in DUI traffic accidents, accounting for 29.5 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the state. In order to reduce the number of innocent people killed by drunk drivers each year, Colorado has enacted legislation requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. This has helped to reduce the drunk driving fatality rate in the state by 19 percent.

What are ignition interlock devices?

IIDs are an effective way to keep drunk drivers off of Colorado roadways and lower the risk of DUI accidents. These devices are wired directly into the ignition system of the offender’s vehicle, and will not allow the car to start unless the driver blows a clean breath sample into a tube connected to the device. Once the vehicle starts, the driver will be required to submit subsequent breath samples, or rolling retests, in order to keep the vehicle going. If the device measures a blood alcohol content level that is above the preset level, which is usually 0.02 percent, then the vehicle will not start. All of the information is recorded within the device and sent to law enforcement officials when the vehicle is brought in for an IID maintenance appointment.

The facts

According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlock devices reduce the number of repeat drunk drivers on the road by at least 67 percent. This is much more effective than simply suspending a DUI offender’s driver’s license, as up to 75 percent of repeat offenders will continue to drive with a suspended license. IIDs, on the other hand, make it impossible for intoxicated drivers to start the vehicle and drive.

Colorado is not the only state in the nation that has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of people killed by drunk drivers after enacting interlock device laws. Arizona has seen a 45 percent decline in the DUI fatality rate, while Kansas and Hawaii both reported a 23 percent drop in deaths caused by drunk driving car accidents. These numbers are significant, as they represent innocent lives that have been saved by these small, cellphone-sized devices.

The effects of tragic accidents

People who have been involved in a catastrophic drunk driving accident may suffer from lifelong injuries, disabilities or may have lost a loved one in the incident. One person’s decision to drink and drive can affect the lives of many people, their families and the community. A personal injury attorney may be helpful in discussing your legal options. You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, emotional trauma, pain, lost wages from work and property damage.

The Sawaya Law Firm is Denver’s personal injury law firm. With over 40 years of experience and a compassionate team prepared to listen to your story, The Sawaya Law Firm is here to help. Contact us anytime.

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