New ignition interlock proposal could reduce DUI crashes in Georgia

A new bill in Georgia would let judges order first-time DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices, which could help reduce recidivism and DUI crashes.

Drunk driving takes a huge toll on the roads in Georgia each year. In 2014 alone, 278 people in the state lost their lives in needless accidents that involved alcohol-impaired drivers, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Fortunately for people in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia, lawmakers are now considering a bill that could reduce drunk driving and result in fewer accidents.

Proposed changes

According to Fox News, the bill would give judges the power to order motorists to install ignition interlock devices after a first-time conviction of driving under the influence. At present, this option is not available to judges until a person has been convicted of DUI at least twice. In this regard, Georgia trails behind the majority of other states, which at least allow the possibility of ignition interlock installation after a first-time DUI offense.

Potential benefits

Research suggests that this legislation could significantly help reduce recidivism and severe auto accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlock device use is advisable even for first-time DUI offenders in light of the following facts:

  • First-time offenders are often likely to drive drunk again. The average first-time offender has already driven intoxicated over 80 times. These offenders also show similar rates of recidivism as repeat offenders.
  • License suspension does not effectively keep convicted DUI offenders off the roads. Between 50 and 75 percent of these individuals drive while their licenses are suspended, and some may persist in driving while impaired.
  • Ignition interlock devices can effectively prevent this type of recidivism. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that ignition interlock devices reduce recidivism by about 67 percent.

An added benefit of the proposed legislation is that it could move Georgia closer to eventually enacting ignition interlock laws that apply to all offenders, which offer significant safety benefits. In four different states, these laws have successfully reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities by over 30 percent.

Handling alcohol-related accidents

Unfortunately, this legislation may not succeed this year. Fox News reports that MADD has attempted to get similar legislation passed in Georgia since 2011, to no avail. Furthermore, even if the law does pass, people with no prior DUI convictions may still pose a threat to other motorists.

Drivers who have been harmed in alcohol-related accidents, whether on the job or during personal time, should remember that legal remedies may be available. In either situation, drivers may be able to make a personal injury claim against the impaired driver. Employees who sustain injuries in one of these accidents during the course of their jobs may also be able to pursue workers' compensation benefits.

Anyone who has suffered harm in one of these accidents may benefit from consulting with an attorney to identify the best option for pursuing recourse. An attorney may be able to offer tailored advice and also provide any assistance needed during the personal injury or workers' compensation claim process.