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Mandatory in-Car Breathalyzers, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 732

Essay

It is an extraordinary fact of modern life that, as common as outrage is regarding deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving, people remain generally unwilling to accept mandatory car breathalyzers, or ignition interlock devices.  It seems that some sort of American ideology feels that such measures violate basic rights, even as so many families suffer the loss of loved ones from drunk driving, and the lives of the drivers themselves are forever damaged.  This is a way of thinking blatantly irresponsible, unethical, and largely irrational.  Given both the continued incidence of drunk driving accidents and the technology in place to virtually eliminate them, it is essential that laws go into effect mandating these devices for every vehicle manufactured.

Over the last few decades, there has been a notable shift in thinking, in regard to drinking and driving.  Primarily through the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a powerful lobbying force, increasingly harsher penalties have been set in place for those who drink and drive. In many states, jail time is mandatory, and the days when a warning or a ticket was the only consequence are long gone.  People, simply, are on guard because they know the repercussions will likely be severe, the least of which is surrendering the license to drive.  Clearly, however, reactive measures are not enough, just as it is unconscionable that many avoid drinking and driving because they fear arrest.  What must be emphasized, and what renders the entire scenario as imperative, is that deaths and injuries caused by drinking are completely avoidable.  These are tragedies that need not take place.  Even with vastly increased awareness and legislation, however, they do.  The reality is both overwhelming and inescapable: every day, 28 people die as a result of drink driving (MADD). More to the point: 28 people die every day when their deaths could be easily prevented, and through an action that takes the same amount of time as adjusting the car mirrors.

The technology is simple: as the mechanism is powered on with the vehicle, the breathalyzer is quickly used, and then ignition occurs if the results indicate a level of blood-alcohol content at .02 or under (AlcoMeters).  It is precisely that simple, yet the requiring of the devices is still restricted only to known offenders.  The simplicity, then, underscores the nature of objections, because it seems evident that the public perceives even so elementary a task as legally mandated violates its rights.  This is nonsense.  People have long accepted as mandatory a variety of car devices deemed to be essential for safety.  Fuel emissions are regulated to protect the wider society, and safety belt usage, once ignored, is now legally required.  These are elements of driving once viewed as absolutely within the driver’s prerogative, yet awareness served to change perception.  That an unwillingness remains in regard to ignition interlock, given the importance of it, is then all the more irrational.  Excess emissions may harm people, and failure to use a safety belt may leave the driver vulnerable, but driving under the influence is, in no uncertain terms, a tragedy waiting to happen.  It is an active threat, rather than a potential danger.

The most obvious reason people – and legislators – resist mandatory car breathalyzers is also the one most easily exploded as a myth.  People tend to view driving as a right.  It is not a right, but a privilege, and this is plainly reinforced by the fact that tests must be undergone in order to get a license.  Moreover, and equally lost in the public consciousness, driving is a privilege each time it is engaged in, which reinforces the driver’s responsibility.  It is truly baffling that these devices are resisted, when drivers act in ways legally enforced to protect others all the time.  Everything from traffic lights to speed limits are legal forces in place to control the driver’s actions on the road, and for the common welfare.  That welfare is victimized daily by drunk driving, and this is a persistent and established reality.  Legally requiring manufacturers to install ignition interlocks in cars, and mandating the consequent public use, is no more invasive than safety belt legislation.  Far more importantly, legally requiring car breathalyzers must greatly lessen, if not eliminate, deaths and injuries occurring every day.

Works Cited

AlcoMeters.  Car Breathalyzers and Ignition Interlocks. 2012. Web. Retrieved from http://www.breathalyzeralcoholtester.com/car-breathalyzer-ignition-interlock

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).  Statistics.  2012.  Web.  Retrieved from http://www.madd.org/statistics/

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