There’s no denying that there are a lot of drunk drivers in Florida, and Florida lawmakers have been using ignition interlocks to successfully stop them. But they are starting to realize that getting the worst offenders off the roads in their state is a problem that requires more than one solution, and how to best implement those solutions took place in the Florida capitol recently.
The debate was over whether Florida lawmakers should require the 24/7 sobriety program in addition to or instead of ignition interlocks for all repeat offenders. The 24/7 Sobriety Program requires offenders to wear a continuous alcohol-monitoring bracelet or take a twice-a-day breathalyzer test. If the offender skips or fails the test, they are penalized in a way that’s set by the state. Other states have required a day or two in jail for a 24/7 Sobriety violation.
It’s a popular program, but while the debate continued a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving stepped up and opposed any attempt to replace ignition interlocks with 24/7 Sobriety or make the devices optional for repeat offenders. According to the spokesperson, “Ignition airlocks offer the only proven technology that protects the driver and the public from preventing a car from starting if the driver is impaired by alcohol. All alcohol programs for drunk drivers should be in addition to ignition interlocks.”
Although there was a debate over the added cost of having both programs on board, Florida senators agreed with MADD. They passed an amendment that allowed for the use of the 24/7 sobriety program in addition to the use of ignition interlocks.
Senators are also waiting on two new bills that will crack down on drunk drivers. SB 1244 will increase penalties for refusing a breathalyzer and HB 0555 will require ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders in Florida.
It’s a good step in the fight against drunk drivers in Florida, and the 24/7 Sobriety Program will be a great counterpart to ignition interlocks. Thankfully they didn’t try to replace ignition interlocks, because in terms of preventing someone from driving drunk, they are the only devices that actually work.