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Five states with the worst drunk driving laws

In early January 2019, Rima and Issam Abbas took their three children on a vacation in Florida. They were travelling back home to Michigan when their SUV was struck by a pickup driven by an intoxicated driver who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.306, nearly four times the legal limit. The family — including all three children — and the driver died in the crash. 

Advocating for Stronger State Laws

Now, the Abbas family, legislators and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are fighting at the federal level to ensure this kind of heartbreak doesn’t continue, and they believe ignition interlock devices (IIDs) and advanced alcohol detection technology in vehicles are the key. In fact, MADD’s top legislative priority in 2020 is to strengthen state ignition interlock laws nationwide.  

States with the Weakest Drunk Driving Laws

Each year, MADD releases a report card rating each state from 0 (poor) to 5 (strong) based on their drunk driving laws. Categories included in MADD’s rating system include laws regarding the use of ignition interlock devices in vehicles, sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers, license revocation for drunk driving convictions, child endangerment charges related to drunk driving with minors present, and alcohol test refusals. The five states to receive the lowest scores for drunk driving laws in the 2019 report are:

Worst state for drunk driving laws: Montana 

Montana received the lowest score at just 0.5. The organization felt the Montana’s legislature had done little to improve drunk driving laws since enacting a .08 BAC per se law in 2003, which says that an individual is considered intoxicated if they are shown to have a BAC of 0.8 or higher at the time of a drunken driving arrest. 

Coming in as the second worst state for drunk driving laws: Michigan

Michigan garnered the second lowest rating with a score of 1, while South Dakota, Wyoming and Rhode Island all received scores of 1.5. 

Tied for third through fith place: South Dakota, Wyoming, and Rhode Island

The lack of all-offender interlock laws was a major contributing factor to the states’ low scores. Montana, Michigan, South Dakota and Wyoming each lack these regulations, which mandate all drivers convicted of a drunk driving charge install an IID to regain their driving privileges. Rhode Island was the only state out of the bottom five to have an all-offender interlock law, which was enacted in 2016. 

What makes an effective drunk driving law?

States that rank highly on MADD’s report have all-offender interlock laws with compliance-based removal, meaning drivers with attempts to drive drunk while using the IID will have time added to their penalties and must continue using the IID until no failures are recorded.   

MADD understands that advanced alcohol detection technology in vehicles is essential to ending drunk driving. Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia require drivers to have IIDs after their first offense. The organization would like states to take all-offender interlock laws to the next step, requiring drivers to use an IID for at least six months upon their first arrest or drunk driving conviction. 

“Combined with enforcement efforts, ignition interlocks are the best proven countermeasure available to stop drunk driving today,” MADD advocates believe, according to the 2019 ratings report. 

Intoxalock supports MADD’s initiative to champion ignition interlocks because they are proven to keep drivers safe by reducing repeat offenses by 67 percent and decreasing drunk driving deaths by 15 percent, according to a 2018 report from MADD. We know that drunk driving deaths have decreased by 60 percent in West Virginia, 34 percent in Kansas and 29 percent in Arizona since those states have introduced all-offender ignition interlock laws, according to the 2019 traffic data

To learn more about how Intoxalock can help keep your community safe from drunk driving, visit us at Intoxalock.com


Category: Legislation

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