In a new report commissioned by the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals (MATCP) evaluates the first five years of the DWI/Sobriety Court Ignition Interlock Program. The findings were announced in a late April conference as part of Alcohol Awareness month.
Michigan requires ignition interlock devices for habitual DWI offenders who are allowed a restricted license after serving a period with a revoked license. A habitual offender is defined as anyone with two or more convictions within seven years or three or more convictions within ten years.
District Judge Harvey Hoffman has been a leader, both in the state and nationwide, in developing courts that engage in more complex problem-solving such as what occurs in the Sobriety Court Ignition Interlock Program. Judge Harvey was the first judge to implement Michigan’s DWI/Sobriety Court Ignition Interlock Program back in 2009. At the press conference, he praised the partnership of Michigan’s courts and the Secretary of State, saying the partnership “…in allowing program participants to lawfully drive to and from court, treatment, school, testing and employment, has been crucial in spreading DWI/Sobriety Courts across the state.”
Program Has Increased Safety and Improved Lives
Data from the first five years of the program show offenders required to use ignition interlock devices in combination with required Sobriety Court are three times more likely to graduate from the program. Other findings include:
- A 97 percent compliance rate for Sobriety Court participants ordered to install interlock devices on their vehicles.
- Substantially lower alcohol and drug use among Sobriety Court participants using an interlock as compared to offenders not under interlock supervision.
- Higher levels of in-program educational improvement for Sobriety Court participants using an interlock.
- Less time in jail, fewer warrants issued against them, and a higher number of overall sobriety days for Sobriety Court participants where were using an interlock device.
The report vindicates the beliefs of proponents of the joint program, showing evidence it helps to increase roadway safety but also improves the lives of the habitual offender.
Cost of Drunk Driving Requires Replication of Model Programs
Twenty-eight people die in the United States due to drunk driving accidents every day. In fact, there are almost 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each and every day, but only 4,000 of those drunk drivers will be caught.
One third of convicted drunk drivers have been previously convicted on drunk driving charges, and 50-75% of drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. Michigan may have devised a successful intervention for this ongoing problem. Ignition interlock devices may well be the answer, but they may not be as effective alone as when combined with more intensive court involvement.
Ignition interlock devices (IID), also known as breath alcohol ignition interlock devices (BAIID) are breathalyzers that are attached to cars and prevent convicted drunk drivers from driving if intoxicated. The devices require the driver to test their blood alcohol levels and prevent the car from starting if the person’s blood alcohol is too high. Many states have begun to use IIDs in a variety of ways and situations, and for good reason. Some of the states that require all offenders to use an interlock device report 30% decreases in drunk driving fatalities.
There are concerns and complications in states considering such programs, including cost and compliance issues. In many states, far too few of those who are “required” to install an interlock ignition device actually install the device. It is difficult to force this compliance, especially since the offender is required to pay for the device in most states. Unfortunately, the offender will instead choose to simply drive unlawfully, without a license and without proper supervision. Michigan’s program seems to have found a way to resolve the compliance challenge, and it is hoped the model can prove instructive for other states.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, the auto accident attorneys at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm have the experience necessary to assist you in securing compensation to help you with your recovery. In the case of wrongful death, we understand there is no way of replacing the loved one you have lost, but we can help by fighting for the compensation you need to ease the financial burdens on your family. Please call 1-800-LEE-FREE today for your FREE consultation.