A study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research indicates that breathalyzer lock laws have prevented approximately 1,250 fatal accidents involving a drunk driver. Breathalyzer locks, sometimes referred to as ignition interlock devices, require that people perform a blood alcohol concentration test before a vehicle will start. If someone is over the legal limit, the ignition will not turn over.
Research shows that approximately 10,000 people die in alcohol-related accidents each year. In 1993, states began passing laws that required vehicles to be equipped with breathalyzer locks. However, the laws vary depending on the state. Some states only require them for people who have been convicted multiple times for a DUI, while other states mandate them after the first conviction.
Researchers looked at data related to crashes from 1982 to 2013, and they took into account other vehicle safety laws. They determined that states that enforced breathalyzer lock laws reduced the rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes by 7 percent. The study leader is hopeful that this data will spur states to put strong breathalyzer lock laws into place.
Although these laws may help reduce the number of drunk driving accidents, the reality is that they are still very common. While a standard automobile accident is dangerous enough, accidents involving drunk drivers may be even more so since they can occur at higher speeds or involve drivers going the wrong way. This can result in serious injuries as well as extensive damage to vehicles, both of which can be very costly. A lawyer could provide assistance to a person who has been harmed in such an accident by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the impaired motorist.