Ignition Interlock for Repeat DUI Offenders
Statement of Attribution to Andrea C. Rehkamp, Executive Director, MADD Southwestern Ohio Affiliate
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – February 21, 2008 – In Ohio alone, there are 147,000 people who have been convicted of three or more DUI offenses with more than 33,000 of those people having five or more DUI convictions. Drivers who are intoxicated will continue to get behind the wheel because they can. That’s why states across the country – including Ohio – are considering legislation that requires alcohol ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Families of victims/survivors of drunk driving, like that of William Sandlin, deserve more.
Butler County resident William Sandlin and his family know all too well the reality of the tragedy a repeat drunk driver can cause. On September 7, 1999, William’s brother Robert Sandlin picked up his granddaughter Melissa Bowling at Ross High School where she was a cheerleader. Less than 1 mile from the school, they were hit head-on by a drunk driver who had crossed the medium on St. Rt. 27, killing both Robert and Missy on impact. The drunk driver who killed Robert and Missy was sentenced to serve eight years in prison, a lifetime revocation of his driver’s license and a $21,000 fine. William and his family were devastated and continue to live with the loss of Robert and Missy each day. They were sentenced to a lifetime without their loved ones.
Another offender serving eight years is Stephen W. Wolf, a Hamilton man who was sentenced this week to eight years in prison following his nineteenth offense for drunk driving. This demonstrates just how much work remains to be done in strengthening our state’s drunk driving laws. Alcohol ignition interlock devices step in where other preventative measures – license revocation, jail time, higher insurance premiums – fall short. Alcohol ignition interlocks are up to 90 percent effective. If all states required interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, we could save up to 4,000 lives a year. The public agrees – with more than 65 percent in support of requiring installation of interlocks in the vehicles of all convicted drunk drivers. In New Mexico, there has been a 25 percent decrease in fatalities from drunk driving since its alcohol ignition interlock law was implemented.
In 2006, 377 people in Ohio were killed by a driver with a BAC at or above the illegal limit of .08. But we envision a day in the not too distant future when stronger DUI laws, including alcohol ignition interlocks, help eliminate drunk driving permanently. We owe it to victims/survivors to eliminate drunk driving for good