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States ponder whether ignition interlock should be in every car

Many states have adopted laws that require people who are convicted of driving drunk to get ignition interlock devices, which prevent them from starting their cars if they fail a Breathalyzer test. The state of Tennessee requires ignition interlock for those caught driving with blood-alcohol levels of .15 or more.

Some people, however, want to take ignition interlock a few steps further: they want it to be installed in every car.

Like Tennessee, at least 24 other states mandate such Breathalyzer locks for those considered "hardcore" drunk drivers, including repeat offenders or those who are pulled over with BACs of .15 or higher.

There have apparently been technological advances with the devices. Some drivers used to have friends use the Breathalyzer so they could start their vehicles. However, new equipment, such as cameras, is making it difficult to get around loopholes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says its top recommendation for reducing the 11,000 annual alcohol-related traffic deaths is mandating the ignition interlock devices. That move would face opposition, however, from groups including the American Beverage Institute. That organization apparently wants judges to look at the incidents on a case-by-case basis.

The managing director of that group tells MSNBC that there should be a difference between someone who has 10 drinks and someone who is barely over the legal limit. At the lighter levels, at least, judges should be involved in the decision whether to mandate ignition interlock devices, she says.

What do you think? Should such devices be mandated for every car, or only for tough offenders? And what else can be done to prevent drunk driving accidents?

Source: MSNBC, "Curbing drunken drivers: should ignition interlock be required on every car?" Jim Gold, Jan. 5, 2012

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