This is the SSI 20/20 interlock device from Smart Start Inc. It interfaces with onboard vehicle diagnostics and can be combined with a digital photo identification of the user, the company says.

Ignition Interlock Bill Filed

With the nationwide holiday DUI crackdown under way, two U.S. senators join MADD in a move to force states to require alcohol ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk driving offenders or lose federal highway funds.

Withholding federal highway money, the method used to make 0.08 blood-alcohol content the law of the land, soon many be used to compel states to require alcohol ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk driving offenders. History shows the threat of losing federal highway funds is a powerful inducement to enact a safety change, and two U.S. senators, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Udall of New Mexico, joined MADD representatives Monday to announce their bill will use this tactic for ignition interlocks.

Lautenberg wrote the law that lowered the legal blood-alcohol limit to 0.08 from 0.10 in all 50 states and also the law that set 21 as the legal minimum drinking age. He said U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., has included language to accomplish the bill's goal in the transportation reauthorization bill. Lautenberg and Udall serve on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

"Far too many people die from alcohol-related auto accidents each year. This week is an especially dangerous time as drunk driving tragedies spike during the holiday season," Lautenberg said. "Our legislation would help keep roads and communities safe by preventing people with a history of drunk driving from repeating that bad decision. It would prevent thousands of tragic accidents and save countless lives every year."

"New Mexico was the first state to attack the epidemic of drunk driving by implementing an aggressive ignition interlock penalty program for all offenders," Udall said. "The strategy has helped take drunk drivers off the roads and save lives. I believe enacting it nationwide would have the same positive and resounding effect."

"We know that 50 to 75 percent of drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license because they can," Mothers Against Drunk Driving National Board Member Jan Withers said. "With an ignition interlock, DUI offenders can still go to work, school, or anywhere else they need to go. They just can't drive drunk."

Alcohol ignition interlocks are about the size of a cell phone. They're attached to the starting circuit of a vehicle. A driver must blow into the device, which prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has measurable alcohol (set to a predetermined level) in his of her system.

Ten states currently have laws that require an ignition interlock for all drunk driving offenders: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Utah, and Washington.

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