Updated: Tuesday, 14 Jun 2011, 8:04 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 14 Jun 2011, 5:56 PM EDT
BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Advocates against drunk driving are demanding expanded legislation to stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel in Massachusetts. The latest numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 108 people were killed in the Commonwealth by drunk drivers in 2009.
“The reason why I do what I do is because my husband, Mike Dean …was killed by a drunk driver in 1991, leaving me a young widow and a grieving mom,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “Our daughter was only 8 months old at the time of his death. There’s many people in Massachusetts that have similar stories to mine.”
MADD is asking lawmakers to support the expanded use of ignition interlock devices, technology that stops drunk drivers from even turning on their ignition. The device is hooked into the ignition of the car, if a driver wants to start the car, the driver must pass a preset breathalyzer test. To avoid circumventing the test, the driver must be trained to blow and hum into the device so that it works properly. If the driver passes the test, the car will start.
“In New Mexico, the first state to implement ignition interlocks for all offenders, they’ve had almost a 40% reduction in their alcohol related fatalities,” said Dean-Mooney. “That is significant, that’s a lot of people that are alive today because they’re protected under this ignition interlock law.”
In Massachusetts, repeat drunk driving offenders are required to have ignition interlocks installed in their cars for two years. MADD wants the law expanded to include first time offenders for a period of six months after their licenses are reinstated.
“I think the thing we know about all repeat offenders is that they were all first offenders once, and our objective is to do something more meaningful with the convicted offender when they are a first offender as opposed to waiting until they become a second, third, fourth, fifth offender,” said David DeIuliis, a MADD Massachusetts spokesperson.
Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Hingham), who is sponsoring the bill and sits on the Joint Committee on Transportation, testified that even some offenders are in favor of his bill because it helps them refrain from breaking the law.