2023 Highlights: States take action to reduce deadly driving

At a time of lives being needlessly lost to drunk driving, several states have recently passed legislation aimed at reversing this dire trend and saving lives. While there’s still more that can be done, these states have taken the first step in increasing safety on the roadways. 

Just recently, South Carolina joined the ranks of more than 30 other states in requiring ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all drunk driving offenders, devices which prevent a car from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. Meanwhile, Louisiana, Texas, and others implemented measures expanding existing requirements for IID usage. 

These changes come at a pivotal point as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) annual data continues to show an increase in deaths attributed to impaired driving. Amid the rising death toll, IIDs remain the only proven, effective tool on the market that can stop an impaired driver from operating a motor vehicle.  

2023 Legislative Highlights: 

  • South Carolina lawmakers responded well to the rise in DUI incidents, especially following a recent Forbes study finding the Palmetto State to be among the worst in the nation for drunk driving. The passage of S. 36, which goes into effect May 19, 2024, will require the installation of an IID after an offender’s first conviction; current law only requires such an action for drivers registering a BAC of .15 or higher. 
  • In Texas, HB 291 takes effect on September 1, 2023, and mandates that any DUI offender seeking an occupational driver’s license must install an IID. An occupational license allows a driver whose regular driver’s license has been suspended to drive under certain conditions, primarily for purposes of transportation to or from work. HB 291 is good for the economy and public safety, incentivizing individuals with a history of drunk driving to reenter the workforce without risking the lives of others on the road. 
  • Louisiana passed two measures to crack down on drunk driving and increase public safety, with IIDs playing a starring role. At the heart of SB 82 is a compliance-based removal (CBR) law, which requires offenders to prove they are driving sober in a certain time frame before the IID can be removed from their car. A recent study on such laws by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) found that CBR laws are tied to a noted decrease in impaired driving recidivism, as reported on by Forbes Magazine. Meanwhile, HB 484 implements enhanced IID requirements for offenders driving at twice the legal limit, including on the driver’s first offense. Both measures took effect on August 1, 2023. 

Proposals Still Outstanding 

  • SB 3011 in New Jersey would extend the state’s current law requiring the installation of an IID as a condition for resuming driving following a DUI offense. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the State Assembly. 
  • Senate Bills 134 and 135 in Michigan are companion bills which would significantly expand the state’s ignition interlock program in a state with some of the weakest DUI laws in the nation, according to an analysis by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The proposals are awaiting passage in the Michigan House of Representatives after receiving unanimous approval in the State Senate. 

With significant progress made in states whose 2023 legislative sessions are complete, there is momentum for states like New Jersey and Michigan to join Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas in protecting their citizens by expanding ignition interlock device usage. Each state’s progress in strengthening laws against drunk driving can be tracked by visiting soberdrivingsolutions.org.