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.