Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

Ignition interlock bill named after Michigan car accident victims

Repeat drunk driving offenders in Michigan are required by state law to have ignition interlock devices fitted to their automobiles. The devices require that drivers take a breath test before they start their vehicles and prevent operation when alcohol is detected. Laws similar to Michigan's are on the books in almost 30 states, but a bill that was submitted on January 11 in the U.S. House of Representatives would go even further.

If it is passed, the Abbas Stop Drunk Driving Act will task the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with drafting a regulation to make ignition interlock devices mandatory equipment on every passenger vehicle that is sold in the US. The bill is named after a Michigan family that lost five members when a drunk truck driver crossed the center line and hit the car in which they were traveling head-on.

About 10,000 people die every year on America's roads in accidents caused by intoxicated drivers, but autonomous safety systems that are already available could reduce that figure substantially in the years ahead. Many cars now feature electronic systems that monitor traffic lanes and alert drivers when their cars begin to stray, and some sophisticated crash prevention systems can take control of vehicles in emergency situations and slow them down or steer them with no driver input.

Drunk drivers who cause car accidents are usually charged with driving under the influence, which could make establishing negligence and liability in lawsuits filed on behalf of those who suffered injury, loss or damage far less challenging for experienced personal injury attorneys. When injuries are serious, and intoxicated drivers face more severe criminal sanctions, lawyers could pursue compensation for accident victims by taking legal action against the drunk driver's estate or car insurance company.

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