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Dubious arguments against ignition interlock

Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute offers some dubious arguments against proposed legislation to make ignition locks mandatory for all DUI offenders ("Reserve ignition interlock for hard core offenders," March 6).

The expense of such a program would spread resources even thinner in the battle against drunk drivers, she reasons. Well, then make the cost of maintaining that program rest more heavily on fines against the drivers and the bars and restaurants that send drunk drivers on their way.

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Moreover, the amount of such fines should be based on income, as is done in many countries, not a flat rate.

Ms. Longwell makes the completely irrelevant point that a 120-pound woman would only require 12 ounces of wine over two hours to reach a .08 blood-alcohol level.

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Any driver at that level is legally intoxicated and risks the lives of other drivers, even if she is not as intoxicated or drank less than her cohorts on the road.

Mr. Longwell also objects to including "marginal" offenders with blood alcohol levels below .15. It would be cold comfort to lose a loved one but later find out the responsible driver was only "marginally" drunk.

Ignition interlocks are not a panacea to end drunk driving; mandatory treatment for alcohol addiction should also be required before the devices could be removed.

And the penalties for non-compliance should be severe. If Maryland required some evidence that a person convicted of DUI had undergone some form of rehabilitation, maybe cyclist Thomas Palermo would be welcoming spring with the rest of his family and friends.

Nora Connell

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