Ala. becomes 50th state to enact ignition interlock legislation

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is congratulating Alabama's legislature for passing HB 361, a bill that requires ignition interlocks for repeat and first time convicted drunk drivers.

The bill will affect any person with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater and will make Alabama the 50th state to enact an ignition interlock law.

"MADD believes that the action taken by lawmakers in advancing HB 361 will help reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders, save lives, and prevent injuries. MADD congratulates lawmakers for passing this important legislation which will make Alabama roadways safer," said Laura Dean-Mooney, MADD National President.

HB 361 still requires Governor Bentley's signature before it will become law.

Alabama is poised to be the 13th state to require ignition interlocks for first time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of .15 or greater. There are 14 states plus a California pilot program that require these devices for all first time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of .08 or greater.

According to MADD, studies show that a first-time convicted drunk driver is not necessarily a first-time offender, but rather it is simply the first time they have been caught.

First-time offenders have driven drunk an average of 87 times before they are convicted, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ignition interlocks, on average, reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent.

In Alabama, there are 54,043 people with three or more DUI convictions and 22,306 with five or more convictions.

In 2009, 280 people in Alabama were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver.