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Would mandated ignition interlock devices curtail liberty?

What if every new car sold in the U.S. had in it an ignition interlock device? Researchers recently studied the question and concluded that 85 percent of fatalities blamed on alcohol in traffic accidents could be prevented, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.

As you likely know, drivers convicted of first-time DUI offense in Colorado are required to install the devices in their cars. However, you can in some situations be eligible to be allowed to remove the device after one month.

University of Michigan researchers estimate 59,000 lives could be saved and 1.25 million injuries prevented by mandating installation of ignition interlocks in all new U.S. autos. It would save the nation $343 billion over a 15-year period, adding that installation costs for the devices would be recouped in just three years.

There is little doubt that civil liberties advocates would oppose mandated installation, arguing that our constitutional rights would be infringed upon, essentially requiring American drivers to prove they are not guilty of drunk driving before being allowed to go where they please.

As you know, ignition interlock devices require drivers to blow into a tube before a car can be started and driven. If an unacceptable amount of alcohol is detected in the person's breath, the vehicle cannot be started.

With current Colorado law, drivers arrested for DUI can often avoid required interlock ignition installation and many other penalties  by hiring an attorney to negotiate with prosecutors to drop or reduce charges.

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