MADD & The Ignition Interlock Industry

By Gary Biller, NMA Executive Director

In an email to supporters on November 12, 2010, Laura Dean-Mooney of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) promoted a program that would install an ignition interlock device in every new vehicle. Under such a program, every driver — not just those with prior convictions — would have to pass a blood alcohol content (BAC) test every time they wanted to start their car to go anywhere.

This program has the appealing acronym — much more so than IID for ignition interlock devices — of DADSS, or Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. When you read or hear about DADSS, terms like “unobtrusive,” and “passive,” and “non-invasive” will be used to describe an ignition interlock device that is anything but.

MADD has endorsed ignition interlocks for quite some time, despite the proven unreliability of the devices and despite well-documented data from a California DMV study that showed first-time DUI offenders with interlocks on their cars had higher subsequent accident rates than first offenders without the device. People who have been convicted of drinking and driving violations are typically reluctant to speak out in opposition to heavy-handed enforcement and onerous penalties, yet the NMA forums are dominated by frustrated victims of ignition interlock devices gone wrong.

It is debatable that ignition interlock devices prevent accidents or save lives. The devices provide inconsistent results and are easily circumvented in their current form. The cost of installation and monthly data maintenance is significant for the vehicle owner.

So why is MADD on a crusade to not only promote IIDs for all drivers with DUI convictions, but also to push for the acceptance of a Draconian program like DADSS? (If you think that “Draconian” is too strong of a description, imagine a society that would require every driver to think twice about partaking in even the smallest levels of alcohol intake for fear that they won’t be able to use their car to get where they need to go.)

The most likely explanation to that key question: follow the money.

To help find the answer to that question, the National Motorists Association is offering $1000 to the first person who can provide solid documentation that MADD is receiving significant funding from manufacturers of ignition interlock devices, principals in these companies, or intermediaries who are acting as conduits to funnel money to MADD.

It is difficult to fathom any other reason for the aggressive promotion of such a counterproductive, intrusive, and wasteful public policy.

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