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Would NTSB drunk driving idea help Wisconsin traffic safety?

A recent opinion piece posted in the La Crosse Tribune suggests that the National Transportation Safety Board has a logical safety idea that Wisconsin should adopt. Car accidents caused by drunk driving are completely preventable, if only people would choose not to drink and drive. But since not everyone is so responsible, the NTSB suggests that ignition interlock devices should become more commonly used.

States have the freedom to make their own DWI laws and punishments, and some states are stricter than others. If the NTSB has its way, Wisconsin would get harsher on drunk drivers, particularly first-time DWI offenders.

The safety suggestion is that states require all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices in order to have a license. Most states do not require that for first offenders, Wisconsin included. The mandate to install the device is generally saved for repeat offenders or those whose blood alcohol levels measure in at higher levels. Should Wisconsin get tougher on first-time offenders?

An ignition interlock device basically is a breath test installed in a vehicle that won't allow the car to start if the driver blows and alcohol is detected in his system.

Critics of adopting the stricter mandate believe that it isn't right to treat a more minor offender like someone who, for example, has been arrested for DWI five times. Those who support the widespread use of ignition interlock devices see drunk driving as drunk driving. It's deadly no matter who does it or how often. It could just take one incident of driving drunk for a fatal accident to take place.

What do you think about this matter? Would it make you feel safer on Wisconsin roads, or do you think this goes too far and is an excessive punishment for first-time DWI offenders?

Source: The LaCrosse Tribune, "Other view: It's time to stop coddling drunken drivers," Dec. 17, 2012

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