BY JENNIFER DOTSON – Kudos to MADD’s Public Policy Committee, and to all the members of the state’s Ignition Interlock Task Force. Their three-year effort culminated January 1st of this year in the launch of the new law mandating in-car breathalyzers (Ignition Interlocks) for all qualified DUI offenders.

The installation of the devices has been proceeding somewhat slower than anticipated, but is beginning to increase.
MADD is cooperating with the vendor, the Judiciary and the Department of Transportation to “diagnose and treat” the problem by planning for more education of the general public and arrested drivers in particular.

Meanwhile, the MADD Public Policy Committee and the Ignition Interlock Task Force submitted a routine bill to clean up an oversight in the law.

To our surprise, it was amended by a legislative committee — based on testimony from a DUI defense attorney — to cover a much broader area, an area the Task Force was intending to address in depth later this year.

The sudden rush to square the amendment with the existing law’s complexities entails significant risk of creating new inconsistencies in the law, in MADD’s opinion.

MADD has testified on other measures, including Gov. Abercrombie’s initiative to raise the tax on liquor as a
way of decreasing injury and death while increasing revenue for the state; the improved labeling of youth-directed, caffeine-added, alcoholic “energy drinks;” using liquor tax revenues to educate youth on underage drinking;
server training, and requiring vehicle immobilization (using a device like the “Boot” or the Club”) as a sanction for driving while license revoked. Of these measures, the alcohol tax and energy drinks, are the only bills still alive
two-thirds of the way through the 2011 session.

Jennifer Dotson is the executive director for MADD Hawaii.

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