Mothers, lawmakers push for ignition interlock legislation

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Mothers Against Drunk Driving made another push at the state Capitol for lawmakers to pass legislation that would require ignition interlocks for first-time offenders of driving under the influence.

Mothers, one-by-one, shared heartbreaking stories of losing their children.

“It’s completely unnecessary for Rene to take her last breath on a hot asphalt interstate,” one mother said.

Another said her daughter fortunately survived, but her recovery took years.

“My daughter was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver,” she said. “This was his third DUI”

The push was for lawmakers in both the House and Senate to pass a bill that would require convicted first-time DUI drivers who had blood-alcohol levels of .10 or higher to have ignition interlock systems installed in their vehicles for six months, instead of a license suspension.

Malcom Friend of MADD in Pennsylvania said the organization has the number to finally back up their claim that interlock devices save lives. From 2003 to 2015, the interlocks stopped more than 78,000 people that registered a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher from driving in Pennsylvania.

“Imagine how many of these drunk drivers were prevented from hurting someone close to us,” Friend said.

Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) said one out of three auto crashes in Pennsylvania involve alcohol. He said it is one of many reasons why he’s introduced similar bills for the past several years, only to get sobering results of the bill failing.

“People weren’t sure enough about the interlock system and how it works,” Rafferty said.

The senator said MADD and others have been doing a good job educating lawmakers. Rafferty did his part and went outside to demonstrate an interlock inside a vehicle.

He believes this is the year to get enough support in both chambers to help save lives.

One mother said every day wasted could take another life.

“It’s gotta stop,” she said. “It’s gotta stop.”

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