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Last week, the Nebraska State Legislature gave final approval to Legislative Bill 736, which expands current interlock legislation to require the installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device for both first and second drunk driving convictions.  The bill now goes to Gov. Dave Heineman’s desk, who has expressed support for traffic safety initiatives.

Nebraska joins other states taking the lead, including Washington, West Virginia and New Mexico, which have passed similar laws this year to require alcohol ignition interlocks for drunk drivers, in an effort to prevent further accidents and injuries by these traffic menaces.

Ignition interlocks will be used as a condition of probation for drunk driving offenders after their driver’s licenses have been reinstated. An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle’s ignition system. When a convicted drunk driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device, and the vehicle will not start unless the driver’s alcohol level is below the predetermined limit. Studies have shown the devices are up to 90 percent effective in keeping both first-time and repeat offenders from recommitting the crime, as long as the interlock is installed on the vehicle.

“Since research shows that two-thirds of those whose licenses are suspended for drunk driving drive anyway, this new law will be a win-win for all involved” stated Alex McHugh, President of Ignition Interlock Services at Stereo West Auto Toys, which installs the devices in the Omaha/Council Bluffs and Lincoln areas.

It has been estimated that nationally only one in eight convicted drunk drivers each year currently get an alcohol ignition interlock device, and most of those are repeat offenders.

I applaud Senator Tony Fulton and the Nebraska Unicameral for making Omaha (and thus Council Bluffs) and all of Nebraska a safer place starting very soon.


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