December 31st, 2009

Vander Plaats Learns About New Technology That May Help Overhaul Of OWI Laws

753927447_8Qmoa-MIowa is behind the curve in protecting its citizens from drunken drivers, according to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats, who Tuesday called for an overhaul of the state driving while intoxicated laws.

“For too long, we’ve failed to use technology as effectively as we could and just plain common sense to save lives and spare people from debilitating injuries in collisions that we could prevent,” Vander Plaats said after touring Consumer Safety Technology. The Ankeny company makes ignition interlock devices that prevent intoxicated people from starting their vehicles. “We have to make sure our laws have teeth in them and that those laws are enforced.”

Ignition interlocks prevent people who have alcohol in their system from driving a vehicle, according to Kevin Doyle, president of Consumer Safety Technology. Before attempting to start the vehicle, the driver breathes into the device, which determines blood alcohol concentration. The vehicle does not start if there is measurable alcohol in the blood.

Vander Plaats noted that New York enacted legislation in November that requires all convicted drunken drivers to use an ignition interlock device.

Vander Plaats wants to explore whether Iowa should make it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the vehicle. It’s a form of abuse, he said.

According to research cited by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, first-time offenders arrested for drunk driving have driven drunk more than 87 times before their arrest. Up to 75 percent of those whose licenses are suspended for drunken driving continue to drive. Interlocks have been proven to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses on average by 64 percent.

Vander Plaats said he knows from his experience with Opportunities Unlimited, a Sioux City non-profit that served people with brain and spinal injuries, “the heartache, pain and devastation that drunken drivers leave in their wake.”

“Drunken driving destroys families and futures and extracts a huge financial toll,” he said. “Ignition interlocks are an important tool in keeping drunken drivers off our roads. I want to make sure they’re being used whenever and wherever it’s appropriate so that we save lives and prevent needless suffering.”

from a press release by Eric Woolson
photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author


Dave Davidson is the TIR artjournalism storyteller photographer and founder of (polite) presidential paparazzi with manners. He is the author of gobs of books including “Sarah Palin Inspires Me”, “Huckisms” and “You May Be A TEApublican”.

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