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California DMV Report Sparks Controversy Over Safety of Ignition Interlock Devices for DUI

Agency Explicitly States, 'No Evidence That Interlocks Are an Effective Traffic Safety Measure For First DUI Offenders'

SANTA FE, N.M., March 21 -- Despite an attempt to back away from its own findings, the California Department of Motor Vehicles' (CA DMV) new report specifically states that ignition interlock devices (IID) are an ineffective tool for first-time DUI offenders, reporting "there is no evidence that interlocks are an effective traffic safety measure for first DUI offenders" and concluding that "the use of the devices should not be emphasized" (p. 22). The report also found that IIDs increase their users' general crash risk by up to 130% (p. 16).

Controversy has surrounded the California DMV report, starting with a March 15th press release by the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which highlighted the report's findings about the ineffectiveness of IIDs for first- time DUI offenders to both the New Mexico legislature and its governor. Well known anti-alcohol lobbyists and the California DMV responded in subsequent days, highlighting other findings on IIDs in the report, which were irrelevant to New Mexico's proposed law.

They did, however, readily admit to the ineffectiveness of IIDs among first-time offenders -- the very subjects of recently passed legislation in New Mexico. In fact, the California DMV report's lead author David DeYoung stated the following in a March 21st press release: "It's true that we found court orders to install an ignition interlock device have no significant effect in preventing repeat DUIs among first-time DUI offenders."

"Clearly the California DMV doesn't like to have their own scientific conclusions repeated back to them when it doesn't suit their agenda," said ABI executive director John Doyle. "Through creative cherry-picking, they are attempting to bury the findings that highlight the unintended consequences of mandating ignition interlocks for first offenders.

"But the facts remain -- New Mexico is poised to enact this legislation even though the California DMV found 'there is no evidence that interlocks are an effective traffic safety measure for first DUI offenders,' and that these devices will likely increase threats to highway safety. We invite the Governor and the public to review the DMV report themselves as these facts couldn't be any clearer." To see a complete copy of the CA DMV report, please visit

The American Beverage Institute is an association of restaurants committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages.