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JACKSON, Miss. — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) would like to thank the House Judiciary B Committee for advancing HB 554, lifesaving legislation authored by Representative Andy Gipson that expands the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including first-time convicted drunk drivers with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.

“Mississippi has a drunk driving problem. In 2012, 25 percent of the lives lost on our highways were the result of a drunk driver,” said MADD Harrison County Chapter Leader and Victim Advocate Bill Downs. “The families in Mississippi deserve to be protected from drunk drivers and MADD Mississippi calls on the legislature to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law.”

Currently 20 states, including Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana, require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including all first-time offenders. Ignition interlocks for all offenders are proven effective to reduce drunk driving recidivism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), requiring or highly incentivizing interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers reduces drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent.

“Through the efforts of MADD, drunk driving is now socially unacceptable. Unfortunately, it is still tolerated,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “HB 554 will increase the use of ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and help prevent repeat offenses, since ignition interlocks are proven to be more effective than license revocation.”

License suspension alone is no longer a practical way to deal with drunk drivers. Research shows that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended driver’s license. Ignition interlocks allow a convicted drunk driver to continue driving, but in a way that will protect families and other motorists.

“Since 2006, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving has promoted strengthened DUI legislation across the country, and today we are asking the Mississippi lawmakers to honor all victims of drunk driving by advancing this critical legislation,” concluded Withers.

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