Various lobbing groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving are putting pressure on Congressional leaders to make breathalyzer-type devices mandatory on all new-model cars.
“You can’t imagine the heartbreak and horror that a family goes through when they lose a loved one like this,” Dr. Keith Sweezy said as he recalls the night his 20-year-old daughter Erin died.
“In a situation like that, you have a trooper come knock on your door and tell you that your daughter has been killed in an accident and the man who hit her was probably drunk,” Sweezy said.
He said the driver had a whole series of drunk driving convictions and arrests.
In Oklahoma the Erin Sweezy Act became law last year and this type of device is now placed in vehicles of convicted drunk drivers.
Sweezy supports the new push to make interlock devices mandatory for all new vehicles starting in 2014.
The ignition won’t start until a breath sample that’s below the legal limit is given.
The device can record other chemicals in your body including tobacco.
“Clearly that will probably save lives,” attorney David Slane said. “You have a right to privacy to what’s in your body and I don’t think the government can compel that without good reason.”
Several other states have followed suit with laws similar to the Oklahoma law.
Sweezy said, in those states, there has been a 24 to 48 percent decrease in drunk driving related deaths directly attributed to new laws.
“Imagine if it was on every car, if you could stop them before the crime was committed, you could stop the deaths,” Sweezy said.
Slane said the 1 percent malfunction rate that could lead to thousands of innocent people stuck.
“I can eliminate all traffic fatalities; all we have to do is ban cars,” Slane said.
“I don’t like federal mandates any more than the next guy but from our personal experience, if such a device could have been on the car of the man who killed our daughter, it would have stopped him that night,” Sweezy said.