July 2, 2019
The Honorable Philip D. Murphy
Governor of New Jersey
Office of the Governor
225 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Dear Governor Murphy:
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), an alliance of consumer, safety, medical and public health groups, and insurance companies working together to pass highway and auto safety laws that prevent crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs, urges you to sign into law Senate Bill (S.) 824 to require the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) by all convicted drunk drivers, including first time offenders. We urge you to join the 33 other states, including neighboring New York and Delaware, that have made their streets and highways safer by enacting an all-offender IID law.
Drunk driving is a deadly and costly threat to New Jersey families. In 2017, 192 people were needlessly killed in alcohol-involved crashes on New Jersey roads accounting for 32 percent of all traffic fatalities.[i] The vast majority of these fatalities, 79 percent, involved a driver over the limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC).[ii] Moreover, all traffic crashes cost the state over $12.8 billion each year.[iii] Clearly, this is a serious issue on New Jersey roads which requires urgent attention and the effective solution of an all-offender IID law.
Under current law in New Jersey, IIDs are required for refusals, repeat offenders and high BAC first-time offenders (.15 BAC or greater). According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), from December 2006 to December 2016, IIDs have prevented 56,143 attempts to drive drunk in New Jersey.[iv] Expanding this program to require all first time offenders to use IIDs would improve the effectiveness of the IID program and help prevent drunk driving.
A common misconception is that most people who are convicted of their first drunk driving offense are social drinkers who made a one-time mistake. On average, a person arrested for impaired driving has driven drunk approximately 80 times.[v] According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), each day, people drive drunk almost 300,000 times but fewer than 4,000 are arrested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that when IIDs are installed, there is about a 70 percent reduction in arrest rates for impaired driving.[vi] Research shows that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.[vii]
The American public strongly agrees that IIDs are needed to address this public health crisis. Nearly eight in ten Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it’s their first conviction.[viii] Furthermore, 82 percent of offenders believe the IID was effective in preventing them from driving after drinking.[ix]
Traffic fatalities on New Jersey roads rose four consecutive years, 2013 – 2017, totaling a 15 percent increase over that time. Improvements to traffic safety are urgently needed and IIDs provide a proven solution. A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that all-offender IID laws lowered the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent.[x] IIHS noted that if all states upgraded to all-offender IID laws, more than 500 additional lives could be saved each year.
We urge you to sign S. 824 to require this commonsense, lifesaving law to curb drunk driving.