In a recent informal survey, students at the University of La Verne agreed with a law that would make ignition interlock devices mandatory for DUI offenders.
Congress showed support for the transportation bill introduced on Jan. 31, which would give additional highway funds to states requiring ignition interlock devices for those convicted of drunken driving.
The bill has already been accepted by 15 states and is being considered in many others. A pilot project, which began in 2010 for Los Angeles County, will run through 2016.
Ten students were asked their opinion of the bill and to give insight into how the bill might affect the University and the state of California.
“If you’re intoxicated and driving there is the possibility of killing someone,” Jose Rivera, a senior English major, said. “If the car doesn’t start you’re saving lives.”
The technology behind the device would prevent drivers from starting the engine if their blood-alcohol level exceeds the legal limit. The test would also be taken at random times while driving to ensure sobriety.
Kath Robi, operations council chair for Mothers Against Drunk Driving for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, experienced the impact of intoxicated drivers.
“My daughter and I were hit by a fourth-time convicted drunk driver who was leaving the bar; with these devices she never would have been able to drive,” Robi said.
“It’s a huge step in saving lives. It separates a drunk driver from his or her vehicle.”
Jose Quintanilla, freshman legal studies major, said these devices should be a permanent installment for those charged with multiple DUIs.
“It’s preventing people from making a bad call because if they are drunk, they don’t know what they are doing,” said Lisa Keyan, a sophomore movement and sports science major.
Many see the ignition interlock devices not only as a punishment for drunken driving, but also a preventative measure.
“From personal experience, it has affected friends and family and it has messed up their lives; it is safer for the car not to start,” said TJ Martinez, junior movement and sports science major.
Some of the states that have adopted the bill extend the requirement to first-time DUI offenders.
In Florida the House of Economic Affairs Committee passed the bill on a unanimous vote Wednesday.
The state specified that first-time offenders could have the device for up to three months; the time would double for second-time offenders.
“If you’re a first-time offender there should be a grace period, but if you’re a repeat offender you can’t control yourself,” Stephanie Chuml, freshmen athletic training major, said.
Although students surveyed support the bill, Jason Neidleman, professor of political science, found it questionable.
“The broader question is infiltration of surveillance technology that violates personal space,” Neidleman said. “The reach of the state stops when private property begins. It is similar to search and seizure on a regular basis.”
“If they have a history (of drunken driving) they did it to themselves,” senior history major Catalina Albertson said.
“Anything that saves lives I’m 100 percent for,” Robi said. “If it’s an inconvenience or people think it’s too harsh, I clearly don’t agree. People should see it’s a life saving tool, you can’t put value on saving.”
Neysa Guerrero said she was in favor of the bill as long as the offenders bought the ignition interlock device at their own expense.
Some students who supported the bill still questioned if it would reduce drunken drivers.
Scott Chandler, sophomore physics major, said the bill is a good idea in theory, but finding a sober person to blow into the device is an easy loophole.
“In the long run (states) would get more funding, but the government has to wait to see if there is a change,” Chandler said.
Amanda Nieto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.