For the Record MADD Supports LB 625

Posted: March 9, 2011 in Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Tags: , ,

  Transportation Committee

LB 625 – Support

Feb. 28, 2011

Simera Reynolds, Executive Director, MADD NE   

First, MADD would like to thank Senator Fulton for his leadership in introducing LB 625 mandatory ignition interlock for all offenders arrested at .08 and above and recognizing the transportation of our children while over the state legal limit (.08) as a felony offense.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving commends Senator Fulton for bringing this issue to the legislative body once again.  We all know drunk driving is a crime and a violent crime that kills one person in our state every five days.

Despite the fact that life saving technology exists, it is not uncommon for the courts to ask the offender if he wants it installed.  The law requiring ignition interlock, in its current state, is an optional law. For MADD optional = offender friendly. In 2009, there were more than 13,000 arrests for DWI, our state conviction rate stands at about 86 % and yet in 2009 there were only 1,800 ignition interlocks in use.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released that ignition interlocks do cut drunk driving and reduce recidivism.  Nebraska policy makers already knew this and acted when they passed LB 736.  However, it is clear that the use of ignition interlock has not been adopted at the county court level.  From our Court Monitoring Program, we can see that there is clearly an inconsistent use of this life saving device at best.

As a state, we have the duty to provide lifesaving technology when an offender has been found guilty of driving while intoxicated.  Not just for some but for every offender at .08 and above.

Additionally, the cost of this device is carried by the offender and does not cost the state monies.  MADD wants to see those that make the choice to drive drunk held accountable. Ignition interlock will do just that.

Second, MADD wants to articulate our strong support for a felony offense provision for those that make the choice to drive over the legal limit (.08). Adults that drink and drive with children in the vehicle are child abusers.  Child endangerment laws serve to protect innocent children from child abusers, not only those that are physically or emotionally abusive, but also those who victimize a child by driving impaired.

Currently, in our state, a DWI offender that is transporting a child can be found in violation of child endangerment law.  However, they are typically charged as two  separate offenses and one is all too often plead away. 

Two-thirds of all children ages 14 and under killed in an alcohol-related crash are killed while riding with a parent, caregiver or guardian (JAMA, May 200).  These children have no voice and they have no choice.  In Nebraska, over the last five years, more than 260 children have been put at-risk and 19 have died in an alcohol-related crash involving an adult  driver with a BAC of .08 or higher (NOHS). The lives of our youth deserve to have a policy in place to protect them from harm.

MADD would ask that you support LB 625, with the appropriate amendments, and send it to the full floor of the legislature for full debate.  Thank you for your time today.

Contact your state senator today to give our youth a voice.  Together we can protect our children and support lifesaving technology.  You voice will make a difference!

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