No one ever needs to drive drunk. The motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by impaired drivers are 100 percent preventable.

As regular readers of our Weirton legal issues blog undoubtedly know, West Virginia’s rate of drunk driving crashes per 100,000 drivers is higher than the national average, which means news of a new drunk driving prevention proposal before Congress is likely to be welcomed by many in our state.

According to news reports, the measure backed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) would require all automakers to equip new vehicles with ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlocks require drivers to blow into the alcohol detection devices before they can start and drive a vehicle. If the device detects an impermissible level of alcohol in the person’s breath, the vehicle will not start.

Here in West Virginia, the legal limit is a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 percent. If a person is at or above that level, they can be arrested and charged with drunk driving.

Safety advocates have long argued that vehicles should be equipped with ignition interlocks, while auto manufacturers say the devices have not been perfected and the mandated installation in all cars, pick-ups, SUVs and commercial trucks would be a tremendously expensive experiment.

For now, the Research of Alcohol Detection Systems for Stopping Alcohol-related Fatalities Everywhere (or ROADS SAFE) Act would simply fund research into making vehicles and streets safer with technologies that could well include mandated ignition interlocks.

Those who have been injured or who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver can contact a Weirton attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.