Wisconsin leads nation in drunk driver ignition interlock stops

- Wisconsin had more incidents than any other state last year of drunk drivers blocked from starting their cars by an ignition interlock device. A report released Tuesday by Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows interlock devices stopped 37,299 Wisconsin drivers from starting their cars while intoxicated in 2016.

California was No. 2 with 35,756 stops. Minnesota had 6,290 stops.

Ignition interlock laws have been MADD’s top legislative priority in every state. The devices, which are installed in the vehicle of a DWI offender, prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above a pre-set limit.

Over the past 10 years, ignition interlocks have stopped 2.3 million drunk driving attempts by a driver with at least a .08 BAC.

Wisconsin law requires first-time drunk drivers with a BAC of at least 0.15 percent as well as all repeat offenders to use interlocks. Minnesota law has a BAC threshold of 0.16.

“We now know just how many times people who have already been caught driving drunk — at least once — would be out on the road again, if not for these lifesaving devices,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Clearly, every state should have laws that require ignition interlocks after the first offense and for at least six months. This gives offenders a second chance, allowing them to continue with their daily lives as long as they don’t try to drive drunk again.”

MADD advocates for ignition interlocks over a penalty of a suspending license because studies cited by the group show 50 to 75 percent of DWI offenders continue to drive with a suspended license.

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