EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – It’s a big step for Oregon in the new year to hopefully help reduce drunk driving deaths, as all drunk driving offenders in the state will now be required to install an in-car breathalyzer.
The new law targets every single one of the state’s new DUII offenders. An estimated 25,000 people will be arrested for drunk driving in Oregon this year.
In-car breathalyzers force drivers to blow a legal blood-alcohol level before being allowed to start their car. The devices are also known as “vehicle ignition interlocks.”
While the devices are required for Oregon’s convicted DUII offenders, until 2012, not everyone in the state’s “diversion” course has been required to use the in-car breathalyzer device as part of the program.
The new law targets every single one of Oregon’s DUII offenders, including all of the estimated 10 to 11-thousand taking part in the Diversion program.
Drivers will also pay to install, rent and maintain the in-car breathalyzer device.
Retired Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad helped to advocate for the bill for the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance. He says it’s about reducing drunk driving deaths and repeat offenders.
“What we know in Oregon is about 300 people are killed by drunk drivers every year, nationally it’s around 11,000. That's a huge number of people,” says Harcleroad.
“Ignition interlocks, what they are is not a punishment thing, what they are is a way to let people drive and insure that they drive sober,” says Harcleroad.
Back in 2002, New Mexico instituted a law similar to Oregon’s new law.
Since then, with the law in play, the state has cut drunk driving fatalities by 38%, and reduced injuries by about 41%.