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House bill would mandate ignition interlocks in all new vehicles

Florida is one of more than 20 states that have laws requiring individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to fit ignition interlock systems to their vehicles. Drivers breathe into interlock devices before turning the ignition key, and their vehicles will refuse to start if even small traces of alcohol are detected. A bill recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would make the technology mandatory on every car, SUV, minivan and pickup truck sold in America.

The Abbas Drunk Driving Act is named after the victims of a drunk driving accident that claimed five lives in Kentucky in January. An intoxicated wrong-way driver struck the Abbas family's car as they were returning home from a vacation in Florida. The Michigan lawmaker who sponsored the bill believes that its passage would prevent many of the accidents involving drivers impaired by alcohol that kill about 10,000 road users in the United States each year.

Auto makers seem willing to play their part in the battle against drunk driving, and some of the advanced safety systems currently available could be capable of preventing the kind of accident that killed the Abbas family. Automatic lane departure systems could prevent vehicles from straying into the path of oncoming traffic, and collision avoidance technology is designed to take control in emergency situations to avoid a crash.

Impaired drivers who cause catastrophic accidents are often killed themselves, and those who escape unscathed may be prosecuted on vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges and sent to prison for years. However, the victims of drunk drivers may pursue compensation even when the reckless motorists who injured them or killed their family members are deceased or incarcerated. In these situations, experienced personal injury attorneys may initiate litigation against the impaired driver's estate or car insurance company.

Source: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "Ignition Interlock Program" , accessed on May 18, 2019

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