CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE | Funding for Universal Interlocks Sought

Last week, Robert Strassburger of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers testified on behalf of 11 car companies before a Congressional subcommittee tasked with reauthorizing the federal highway bill. In his testimony, Strassburger asked Congress to grant a request by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for $30 million in annual funding to develop ignition interlock devices to be installed as standard equipment on all cars.

The American Beverage Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based organization representing the on-premise industry, spoke out immediately against this request. “Auto manufacturers have a history of playing nice with MADD to avoid being criticized, singled out and targeted for new regulation,” said ABI managing director Sarah Longwell. “That’s why car companies and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are among the biggest donors to MADD’s $50 million operating budget.”
Longwell asserts that while groups like MADD and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers claim universal interlocks will be set at the legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC, that will not be the case in practice. For a number of reasons, universal interlocks would have to be set below the legal limit – most likely around 0.03 to 0.04. The universal application of ignition interlocks would effectively eliminate millions of Americans’ ability to have a glass of wine with dinner, a beer at a ball game, or a champagne toast at a wedding and drive home, according to ABI.
“As car companies continue to take government bailouts just to stay afloat,” Longwell continued, “it doesn’t make sense why they are spending time on a campaign to eliminate responsible consumption of beer, wine, and spirits.” 


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