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Report finds in-car breathalyzers stop repeat drunk driving

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The Michigan Supreme Court says ignition interlocks are helping to keep convicted drunk drivers from repeating the offense of driving while intoxicated.

Michigan has 41 specialized DWI/sobriety courts, which aim to help drunk drivers stay sober, stay out of jail, and stay in their jobs, because they can still drive to work.

In some cases, judges in these courts order the use of ignition interlocks, which are breathalyzers attached to the ignition of a car.  The car won't start if the driver blowing into the device is intoxicated.

The Supreme Court report says 12% of interlock participants failed their court-ordered program, compared to 34% of those who were not ordered to use the interlocks.

More than 97% of people who were ordered to use the devices did so.

And recidivism rates were also lower among interlock users. Two-point-eight percent of interlock participants had a repeat DWI offense once off probation, compared to 5.5% of non-interlock participants.

The study used data collected between 2011 and 2014, from district courts in Kalamazoo, Waterford, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Marquette.

Alcohol is a factor in many roadway accidents. The Michigan State Police says there were 9,396 crashes involving alcohol in 2014, and 236 alcohol-related fatalities.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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