Drunken driving deaths preventable

Published 6:40 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

No mother should experience the same numb, devastating feeling that Montgomery resident Monica Jordan said she had the moment she learned her 24-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver.

A house bill scheduled for a committee hearing this week will surely help prevent similar incidents from occurring.

It is evident from the countless DUI charges I have read while reviewing the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department arrest reports that Selma-Dallas County area could benefit from House Bill 381.The legislation strengthens the current set of consequences for drunk driving by giving first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 to 0.14 the option of going on an ignition interlock for six months in lieu of a 90-day license suspension.

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The interlock ignition device is wired in a driver’s car. In order for the car to start, the driver must blow a blood alcohol concentration level of no more than the legal limit.

Because I have also read several arrest charges related to driving with a suspended license, I know that several people will drive without a license. Including the interlock ignition lock option for first-time offenders is a great step in the right direction.

When the device is only an option for those convicted, it leaves room for DUI offenders to make another wrong decision that could lead to traumatizing results. It is not logical to expect everyone that consciously made a harmful decision to ignore a serious law prohibiting drunk driving to follow a law that forbids driving with a suspended license.

According to the Centers of Disease Prevention, ignition interlock devices reduce drunken driving recidivism by 67 percent compared to license suspension alone.

Not only will it reduce drunken driving victims, it would also prevent people from making a mistake that can change their life forever.

The mere fact that the ignition interlock device is wired in their car serves as a constant reminder that they could have taken a life with their prior drunk driving experience. They may avoid driving after any alcohol consumption just to be sure that their lives or that of others is not jeopardized in a tragic, fatal accident.

This bill would also prevent drunk drivers from crowding our jails.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported more than 10,000 deaths in alcohol-impaired crashes, which translates into a fatal accident every 51 minutes.

Like State Rep. Dario Melton (D-Selma), I agree that the bill itself generates a much-needed discussion in the community. Whether it is passed or not, the mere fact that it is being addressed brings awareness to an issue that affects millions of people across the nation.

While we all might not agree on the consequences for drunk driving, I think it is safe to say that the pain and suffering associated with involvement with the act is unwanted.

Jordan has lost her son to act that could have been easily avoided. I hope House Bill 381 is passed as a law, so fewer people suffer the severe pain she must handle.