Iowa roads are in danger of becoming a lot less safe if recent legislation to weaken Iowa’s drunk driving laws passes through the House of Representatives. The bill proposes the implementation of a 24/7 Sobriety Program that will ultimately replace ignition interlock device requirements for repeat drunk driving offenders.
What is the 24/7 Sobriety Program (Iowa House Bill 606)?
The program would require that convicted drunk drivers check in two times a day to provide a breath sample, instead of requiring them to use an ignition interlock device for a duration of time. This will prove to be just as effective as license suspension is for repeat offenders…not effective at all.
According to MADD studies, 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive even after losing their license. View more drunk driving statistics. Sadly, many repeat drunk drivers do so out of habit. Besides physically preventing them from starting their vehicles while intoxicated and taking the decision-making aspect out of their hands with an ignition interlock device, there is nothing that can be done to guarantee that they will not get behind the wheel after drinking.
Ignition interlock devices are effective in preventing drunk driving while allowing offenders to resume a normal life. They can still drive to work and transport their children around. With a requirement to physically go into a location twice a day to provide samples, schedules will be disrupted and rehabilitation will be nearly impossible. This will result in people abandoning the program and spiraling downward into a system of consequences without the chance to recover.
Ignition interlock devices save lives
Data is consistent in showing a dramatic decrease in drunk driving deaths after a state enacts strict ignition interlock laws. Just last year, Iowa saw over 100 alcohol-related traffic fatalities and over 930 alcohol-related crash injuries. (MADD) Sadly, those numbers are rising every year. That number, however, could drastically be cut if ignition interlock devices became required for all Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) offenders.
“No other program can physically stop a would-be drunken driver from getting behind the wheel and threatening anyone in his or her path,” said Frank Harris, MADD’s director of state government affairs.
In MADD’s 2016 Ignition Interlock Report, 127,633 Iowa drunk drivers with a Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) of .08 or above were prevented from starting their vehicles because of ignition interlock devices. In addition 595,473 Iowa drivers with a BrAC between .02 and .08 attempted to start their vehicles but were stopped by the ignition interlock device. Though not legally intoxicated, this shows the number of individuals willing to test the limits of drinking and driving.
Currently, 25 states require ignition interlock devices for all OWI offenders. Iowa is not one of them. Instead, Iowa is looking to remove the interlock requirement altogether, which undoubtedly will result in more alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
Iowa residents – take action now!
On MADD’s scale of what the most effective ignition interlock program would look like, Iowa’s laws are consistent with two of the five requirements. 40%. Iowa is failing. With so much room for improvement and so many lives to be saved, all Iowa residents must come together and take action to prevent this bill from passing.
To write to your state representative, follow these steps:
Go to https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find and locate your state representative by typing in your home address
Click on your representative to obtain their e-mail address
Write a personal e-mail opposing House Bill 606 (24/7 Program)
Urge your family and friends to send their own letters – the more, the better
Take action today. Tomorrow might be too late. One letter could save lives. Help Iowa protect our parents, children, grandparents, friends and more. Many times, victims of drunk driving traffic fatalities end up being those that are innocent. Let’s work together to strengthen Iowa drunk driving laws and keep offenders off the roads.