MADD applauds new GA ignition interlock law for first time DUI offenders

It's a win for the Georgia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Starting this Saturday, July 1st, there will be a new law for ignition interlocks for first time DUI offenders.

MADD says, when someone is arrested for DUI the first time, statistics show they've actually been guilty of driving drunk more than 80 times before that. Up until last year, Georgia was one of only four other states with no law about ignition interlocks for first time offenders. They say, the new law could save your life, or the life of someone you know.

Just in time for the busy Fourth of July holiday week, Georgia will begin enforcing a new ignition interlock law, the first on the books since 1999.

"We're very thrilled. It actually passed in the session in 2016, to be effective July 1 and it's going to give a wonderful option to those that are stopped for DUI," says Debbie Day, the Georgia Executive Director of MADD Georgia.

Drivers arrested with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher, and drivers who refuse a blood alcohol test will now have the option to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicle, instead of handing over their license.

"Ignition interlocks have saved 2.33 million lives since they began," adds Debbie.

The CDC says the devices have proven to be a lot better at stopping drunk drivers than a simple license suspension. "People on license suspension drive with their license suspended 50 to 75 percent of the time. That cannot happen with an ignition inter lock, because you can't start your car if someone is over .08," Debbie says.

Wednesday, national MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church visited Georgia to support the new law.

"It's the best thing out there right now. It's the only thing that will stop a car from turning over it someone is impaired, by blowing into something that is the size of a cell phone," Sheehey-Church says.

"It’s another tool in our arsenal. It’s something we can use to say that drunk driving is an unacceptable behavior and the great thing about this, is that it goes into effect before a conviction," adds Harris Blackwood, the Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

And while MADD says it's a step toward saving lives, they're still pushing for more. "We really want this to be mandatory where this can also be included in the sentencing, that a judge can use ignition interlock as added benefit to a diversion program," Debbie states.

MADD also says one of their biggest concerns right now is Coastal Georgia, where their numbers show nearly 40 percent of all fatalities in that part of the state are alcohol related.