MADD At Odds Over DUI Proposal

April 21, 2014

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is objecting to an abstinence-based proposal that would let judges order twice-daily breath tests instead of ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders. But the head of the National Sheriffs’ Association says the “24/7 Sobriety” model is a better way of keeping drunken drivers off the road for good.

MADD National Director Jan Withers on Friday asked Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to reject the plan, which was approved by a House committee last week and is known elsewhere as “24/7 Sobriety.”

“MADD believes that amendments allowing for twice a day testing or 24/7 sobriety programs are okay, but these programs should never replace the use of ignition interlock for a convicted drunk driver,” Withers wrote.

Instead, MADD wants Florida lawmakers to expand the use of the interlock devices, which keep vehicles from starting if a driver is drunk, to first-time offenders whose blood-alcohol content is above .08. Current state law requires the devices for second- and third-time offenders as well as for those with a blood-alcohol content of .15 or greater.

In a letter to Weatherford, Withers pointed out that 17,224 Florida residents were convicted in 2012 for driving with suspended licenses that were revoked because of previous DUIs, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“MADD believes Florida needs … a new approach to handle persons arrested for drunk driving as license suspension alone is no longer practical,” Withers wrote. But on Thursday, Sheriff Mike Leidholt of Hughes County, S.D., wrote that he is “wholeheartedly in support” of the proposal (HB 7005), approved last week by the Florida House Economic Affairs Committee. The proposal would allow judges to place drivers with more than one DUI into a 24/7 program instead of or in addition to requiring interlock devices.

Leidholt, who is also president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, helped implement one of the nation’s first 24/7 sobriety programs, now in use statewide in South Dakota and two other states.

“Of all the wonderful programs that sheriffs are initiating, I have not seen one that is as successful in reducing recidivism, managing corrections populations, and reducing alcohol related crashes as the 24/7 Sobriety Program,” Leidholt wrote.

Interlock devices are now in use by more than 10,000 Florida drivers, and the industry generates about $10 million a year.

by The News Service of Florida


10 Responses to “MADD At Odds Over DUI Proposal”

  1. Charles on May 1st, 2014 1:22 pm

    Gembeaux, the answer is *not* complete revocation of driving privileges for repeat offenders. More than half of people who have their license taken away continue to drive, and if they tend to drive drunk, then revocation does absolutely nothing.

    Interlocks are the way to go – it’s the only measure that actually keeps people who have been drinking from getting behind the wheel. Yes, you can have someone else blow in to start, but the device demands a re-test after a few minutes. Are you going to take someone sober with you everywhere? Someone who’s willing to drive with a drunk? Interlocks really do keep a great many drinkers off the roads.

  2. Henry Coe on April 22nd, 2014 7:48 pm

    I think a big part of our problem with problem drinkers is that just about everywhere in society that we sell food and fuel we also sell alcohol. I don’t support prohibition, but I really think as a society we need to look at how we allow alcohol to be advertised and where we allow it to be sold.
    We collect a lot of tax from Alcohol sales, but Alcohol related problems are very expensive to have to deal with and we don’t seem to be gaining ground in stopping people from being stupid. In other words we are doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result that isn’t going to occur.
    I don’t think how we administer the punishments is going to make much difference when everyday we make obtaining alcohol so convenient.

  3. perdido fisherman on April 22nd, 2014 7:09 pm

    I agree Danny, a combination of the two with stiff sentences is a good idea.

  4. DANNY on April 22nd, 2014 10:07 am

    Keep the the ignition interlock devices in place and add the 24/7 program. As long as the persons that are on these program are the ones paying for it and not the tax payers. Maybe then they won’t have the money to drink in excess. Personally I would be for revoked license and 1 year injail for the first offence and then 5,10, 20, for the next offences. The punishment needs to be so insufferable that people will stop and think before they take that drink knowing they will have to drive later.

  5. Gembeaux on April 22nd, 2014 7:58 am

    I cannot imagine the administrative burden this would become. The answer to repeat offenders (and some first time offenders) is the complete revocation of driving privileges. And, yes, driving IS a privilege. I am so saddened by the frequency of reports of highway fatalities caused by repeat DUI offenders.

  6. Lady on April 21st, 2014 11:18 pm

    The lawmakers not only need the laws for heavy drinkers but a much stiffer fine for cell phone users and really higher fines for texting. This is really taking lives and if not curtailed more and more deaths to innocent ones who they hit while texting,

  7. Justme on April 21st, 2014 4:01 pm

    I’ve seen people get someone that hasn’t been drinking to “blow start” their car for them.

  8. eyeswideopen on April 21st, 2014 12:14 pm

    I think this may be a good idea as some of the DUI offenders drive other friends vehicles by knowledge, or under the guise their vehicle is broke down since they have the interlocking device. Believe me these offenders have been finding ways to get around the law for years.

  9. bmr on April 21st, 2014 6:55 am

    If they would do that it would hit to many political figures.

  10. perdido fisherman on April 21st, 2014 3:42 am

    I agree with MADD, it’s a bad idea to do a twice a day breath test.

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