Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Colleen Sheehey-Church and families of DUI victims in Pennsylvania met with lawmakers Feb. 10 in Harrisburg to support ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers.
Sheehey-Church, whose 18-year-old son, Dustin, was killed by a drunk and drugged driver, was joined by Senator John Rafferty (R-44) at a news conference in the Capitol Media Center to call for passage of Rafferty’s SB 290 and HB 278, authored by Rep. Keith Greiner, which would require convicted drunk drivers with illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 or greater to use ignition interlocks for at least six months.
“Ignition interlock legislation is MADD’s number one legislative priority across the country and in Pennsylvania,” Sheehey-Church said. “I want to thank Sen. Rafferty and Rep. Greiner for their leadership, and I hope all members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly will join them in supporting this proven countermeasure to the 100-percent preventable crime of drunk driving.”
Due in part to similar laws passed in other states, drunk driving deaths have declined dramatically and at a better pace compared to the national average decline. New Mexico and Arizona have seen a 40 percent and 45 percent reduction, respectively, in drunk driving deaths since passing all-offender interlock laws.
“This legislation has widespread support from law enforcement groups, traffic safety organizations and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and it’s time for Pennsylvania to join other states in requiring interlocks for some first-time offenders,” Rafferty said. “First-time offenders are often serious offenders and research has shown that a substantial number will violate the terms of their license suspension and become repeat offenders.”
In 2013, 368 people were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver in Pennsylvania.
“More than 30 percent of traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania are alcohol related,” Greiner said. “One such tragedy occurred in my district last year involving an 18-year-old high school student who was killed when a drunk driver struck her car. This legislation is intended to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future by preventing those who have shown poor judgment by drinking and driving in the past from driving under the influence again.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.
SB 290 and HB 278 follow the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and every major traffic safety organization, including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Thirty-eight states have laws that require interlocks for some level of first-time offenders. Twenty-four states, including West Virginia and New York, require these devices for all first-time convicted drunk drivers. New Jersey will become the 25thth state if Gov. Chris Christie signs a bill that received overwhelming support by the House and Senate.
CONTACT: Ryan Boop (717) 787-1398