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The bill would require those who drive drunk to use an ignition interlock device after the first offense. These ignition interlock devices are used to detect the presence of alcohol in a driver’s breath and prevent the vehicle from being started if it detects alcohol.
In 2014, Alabama passed a similar ignition interlock law, but it did not require drivers who enter pretrial diversion to use a device. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Mississippi stopped more than double the number of drunk drivers than Alabama in 2016 due to their ignition interlock law. More states are considering laws regarding these devices, especially since 32% of all car crash fatalities are caused by drunk driving.
The new bill would allow judges to order interlock ignition as a condition for bail. Furthermore, the bill would reduce fines and still allow drunk driving offenders to drive, as long as they use an interlock device.
According to Republican Sen. Paul Bussman, drunk driving is the leading cause of fatalities on roadways in Alabama. Sen. Bussman sponsored a similar bill which would specify the level of alcohol that would set off an ignition interlock device.
“There is no excuse to have any more deaths in the state of Alabama. It’s wrong,” Bussman explained at a press conference.
While people drive drunk almost 300,000 times every day, fewer than 4,000 are actually caught and arrested. Legislators and residents alike hope this new law will decrease the number of drunk drivers on the roads.
McClendon says a good number of drunk drivers have driven drunk before, so this mandatory device could force them to be unable to repeat the offense.
The House of Representatives has the final vote on this bill.
Another driving-related bill in Alabama is ridesharing legislation. Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill allowing ridesharing companies to operate throughout the state. The bill was proposed by Rep. David Faulkner and Sen. Bobby Singleton.
Ridesharing companies will be charged a fee by the Public Service Commission, which will regulate these companies and issue permits.
Currently, Uber and Lyft are allowed to operate under city laws in Alabama’s urban areas. The state is now the 45th state to pass legislation regarding ridesharing.
According to Ivey, the law would mobilize both visitors and Alabamians.
“We are paving the way for everyone in Alabama to have a ride just with the touch of a button, regardless of where you might be in Alabama,” Ivey said.