By Bob Katzen

The Bay State now stands alone as the only state in which a person convicted of drunk driving for the first time is not given the option to install an ignition interlock device which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the vehicle. The device determines whether the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above or below a preset legal limit. If the result is above the limit, the car will not start. Under current law, ignition interlocks are required for operators driving under a hardship license after two or more drunken driving convictions.

Rep. Tim Whelan (R-Brewster), a former police officer, is sponsoring a bill that he says would allow drivers who are convicted for the first time of drunk driving reduce the length of their license suspensions by applying to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle to ensure operator sobriety. “Massachusetts is the only state in the nation that does not allow for interlocks {for first offenders] in lieu of license suspension,” said Whelan.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says Breathalyzers have stopped a driver who is drunk from starting his or her vehicle over 3 million times since MADD began advocating for the devices in 2006.

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