Reducing DUI accidents: Ignition interlocks become mandatory in Delaware

On behalf of Gary Nitsche

Delaware has passed a law that will require all DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device in their cars.

Reducing DUI accidents: Ignition interlocks become mandatory in Delaware

Delaware joins a growing number of states requiring the devices

A bill that will require all convicted DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles has become law in Delaware, according to Delaware Public Media. The bill was signed on August 6 by Gov. Jack Markell in Wilmington. Advocates of the law say it will help reduce the number of DUI car crashes in the state. Half of all fatal car crashes in Delaware currently involve driving under the influence, according to the Delaware State Police. Delaware joins more than 20 other states that have already passed similar legislation.

Law affects all DUI offenders

Ignition interlock devices are installed in a vehicle and require the driver to perform a Breathalyzer test in order to start the car. If the driver fails to pass the test, then the car's engine will lock up. Under the previous law, only repeat offenders or people who had a blood alcohol level above 0.15 were required to have the devices installed.

The new law, however, will require anybody convicted of a DUI, including first offenders, to have the devices installed. DEL. CODE ANN. 21 § 4177(e). In order to start their vehicles, the offenders will have to pass the breath test with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or under, according to an article on the new law.[1] The National Transportation Safety Board in an article by Delaware Public Media[2] points to the success of other states with similar legislation, where the devices have been credited with reducing DUI recidivism rates and the number of fatal car crashes. According to the same article by Delaware Public Media, last year, 43 people died in Delaware in DUI-related crashes, which accounts for nearly half of all fatal crashes in the state.

Holding drunk drivers accountable

Crashes involving people who drive under the influence tend to be treated much more severely by the courts than other types of car accidents. If a driver has a registered blood alcohol level above 0.08, most courts will presume that such a driver was driving negligently and perhaps even recklessly.

For anybody who has been injured by a drunk driver, understanding the types of compensation available is important. While punitive damages are not usually applicable in car crash lawsuits, for example, such damages may be available if the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. Punitive damages are above and beyond the normal compensation that is typically available after an accident and they designed to punish the negligent driver for his or her actions in order to discourage repeat behavior.

Talk to an attorney

In addition to punitive damages, people who have been injured by a drunk driver or any other negligent driver have the right to pursue other forms of compensation. These types of compensation can cover the costs of medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost income, and pain and suffering.

However, holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions is not always easy. For the best chance at receiving the maximum compensation they deserve, victims of a negligent driver should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

[1] WBOC, "Ignition Interlock Devices Now Required in Delaware," Lindsay Tuchman, August 6, 2014.

[2] Delaware Public Media, "New law mandates ignition locks for all DUI offenders," Karl Malgiero, August 6, 2014.

Keywords: car accidents, drinking and driving, DUI accident, ignition interlocks, recovery

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