Ignition Interlock Devices Could Solve More Mississippi Problems

Mississippi ignition interlock devices solve problemsMississippi seems to be in the news a little more than normal lately, and not always with positive, life-affirming headlines. Despite changes to Mississippi DUI law in the past, it seems the residents of the state are starting to pay the price for drunk driving, texting while driving and other causes of accidents –  just not with higher taxes. Auto insurance companies are starting to raise premiums for drivers in the state because of the high rate of accidents, leaving Mississippi to wonder what the real problem is, and how to fix it.

As a state that takes drunk drivers seriously, the recent changes to Mississippi DUI law mirror those values. Requiring an ignition interlock device after a DUI conviction allows the offender the chance to get back on the road, eliminate employment problems and keep family obligations intact. Expanding the state’s ignition interlock program was a quick solution to a driving safety problem, a response we expect to see again, but for the current rise in all types of auto accidents.

If a lack of law enforcement presence is the problem, one of the solutions could actually be those interlock devices. They stop an offender from causing any further DUI incidents without the assistance of the police, freeing up those resources for other problems on the roads. Drunk drivers are associated with about one-third of automobile accidents in the U.S. on average, so anything that can stop those drivers from further problems is an obvious solution.

Rising automobile insurance rates may indicate there’s more work to be done to keep streets safe, but we’re sure Mississippi is up to the challenge. Besides, the state is already on a positive, life-affirming path to reducing the number of DUIs and maybe even helping law enforcement get a better handle on other road problems at the same time.

5 Minutes of Internet Fame and a DWI

Live streaming a DWI is a drunken distractionDrunk, distracted and drowsy driving are all big dangers on our roads. So, let’s make sure we understand the basics of driving safety and the risks of a DWI, just as a refresher. After all, it is Friday and we’re all about to relax a bit from the week. Maybe we’ll meet up with friends, check out a new bar or hit up happy hour. We will also have our smartphones with us, so we are connected with each other through texts and apps. Plus, nothing proves how awesome a weekend is like Tweeting, Facebooking or live-streaming the fun, right?

It’s true. Just don’t be the guy who live-streams his “fun” DWI drive.

Live-streaming on Facebook, Periscope, Meerkat or any similar app has its place in our Internet culture. But, as with any moment of intoxication and social media – you need to think before you drink. Then, you really need to think before you drink and drive… and when you’re broadcasting your journey, you should know that people are going to report you and you’ll be arrested. Granted, your broadcast probably saved a life on the road, or at least kept property damage to a minimum, but there are better ways to earn your Internet fame.

Like, Pinterest. Or, Untappd. Just be sure you are not driving when using either of those apps, too.

The moral of the story is that when you are driving, you need to be driving responsibly. That means you are sober and avoiding a DWI, the hassle of court, an ignition interlock requirement and the financial burdens of the “$10,000 Ride.” You are not using your smartphone or texting, and you are free from any other distractions that could put you or others at risk on the road. Internet fame is fleeting, and there is no amount of live-streaming that can make up for the danger you become when you are drowsy, drunk or distracted behind the wheel of your car.

The 87%: Drinking and Driving is Only a Part of Road Risks

Drinking and driving and other road risksDrinking and driving is one of the most preventable crimes out there. All it takes to prevent it is to find a safe ride home or stay put until one sobers up. Yet each day there are drunk drivers on roads across the country, disregarding the damage they could cause. Drinking and driving is a choice, one that can end in disaster.

Unfortunately, drinking and driving is not the only bad choice drivers make on the roads. Texting while driving is just as dangerous a habit. Drowsy driving is right up there, too, along with other distractions in the vehicle while it is in motion. AAA recently revealed that 87% of drivers on the road admitted to dangerous driving behaviors, which means that pretty much everyone is guilty.

So, let us just refresh our memories with common sense safe driving tips:

  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t text and drive.
  • Eliminate all other distractions while driving.
  • Don.t drive if you are overtired.
  • Buckle up your seatbelt.
  • Follow the rules of the road (speed limits, stoplights, etc.)

A couple of these driving offenses can be prevented by technology. Your car can keep you from starting till you buckle your seatbelt – or at least annoy you until you do so – and an ignition interlock can prevent drinking and driving. Unfortunately, for the other dangerous habits there’s no electronic savior. All we can do is rely on drivers making a good choice.

At the end of the day, you want to be safe at home – and so does everyone else. By choosing to drive safely, we are all making the right choice for ourselves, as well as others on the road. Considering that nine out of ten cars on the road could be doing something risky while driving, it isn’t a lot to ask for everyone to settle down and pledge to keep it safe on the streets.

So – will you be part of the 13 percent who follow the above tips and do the right thing? If you agree to, you’ll be helping that minority grow in size.

Auto Financing with an Ignition Interlock and Restricted License

Auto financing and your ignition interlock After a DUI, you may have plenty of concerns over where your life is headed. Driving under the influence can mean you were injured or that your vehicle was damaged or totaled. Once you get through all of the court and administrative procedures after a DUI, you may even have an ignition interlock requirement and a restricted license. But, without a car, you can’t use either of those… and getting a new car probably means you’re going to have to finance it, as well.

Can you actually finance an auto loan with an ignition interlock and restricted license?

Financing a vehicle means that you’re going through a company that deals with financial information like your income, bills and credit score. They’re going to want your driver’s license information, but that probably isn’t about determining if you’re credit worthy – they just want a way to track you down if you stop paying on the car. Your restricted license and your ignition interlock requirement won’t influence the cost of your car or the rate of financing you receive, and it likely won’t influence the decision to sell you a loan for your new car.

The auto financing company will, of course, require you to have enough insurance to cover the cost of the car, which is where your interlock and restricted license may affect the “big picture” of getting you back on the road. After all of the costs involved with financing your car, your DUI costs, the ignition interlock, attorneys and insurance, your problem may not be financing the car but affording the total cost of your DUI. That’s a lot to consider when financing a new car that may have resulted from your DUI, especially when you could have just paid a few bucks for a taxi ride home.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Glasses With An Alcoholic DrinkDrinking to excess increases a person’s risk of injury, violence, being involved in an accident, liver disease, and certain types of cancer. Drinking can impair a person’s judgment and lead to bad decisions that can be life changing. These decisions can include the serious decision to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. Alcohol consumption dramatically increases the chance of being involved in a fatal car accident. That’s an accident that someone won’t be walking away from.

Luckily there are simple things you can do to help raise awareness and help prevent alcohol abuse. For starters, you can encourage friends and other loved ones to set a drinking limit before they enter a situation where there will be alcohol. By setting limits beforehand and keeping track of the number of drinks you have consumed, you can reduce the risk of anyone going too far with their alcohol consumption. You can also have a talk with any parents you know about how to talk to their children about the risks involved with alcohol. Underage drinking is a serious problem in our country right now, and a simple conversation can make all the difference in the world. You can also ask a doctor or other medical professional to make information about the health benefits of cutting down on alcohol consumption readily available in their office. Another way you can spread the word about Alcohol Awareness Month is through social media. Tweet a statistic involving an alcohol statistic or instagram a picture of you having fun without alcohol #AlcoholAwareness. There are tons of ways to have a good time that don’t include alcohol.

An important part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol-Free Weekend which falls between April 4th and April 6th. Instead of drinking, try having fun with your friends some other ways. Have a movie night, play board games, try new foods together, go to a concert, or stage your own murder mystery! The possibilities are literally endless. The internet is also full of fun, non-alcoholic blended drink recipes to try out. These drink options are often healthier, packed with fruits and antioxidants, with less calories, and less regret the next morning.

No matter how you decide to celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month, it is important to share the message with your friends. If you suspect that you or someone you care about may be suffering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism, it is important to know that there is help available. Seeking a counselor who has experience with alcohol and addiction counseling can be a good first step. Even if you don’t suspect a serious problem, cutting down on your alcohol consumption can be good for your mind and body. Taking an occasional break and challenging yourself to be social in other ways can be a great way to break up routines and strengthen friendships. Sharing news about alcohol awareness is important. It may even save a life.

Teens and Sobriety

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According to the Center for Disease Control, vehicle accidents are the top cause of teenage and child deaths in the country, prompting states across the country to introduce graduated driver’s licenses, and full-scale awareness programs regarding the risk factors of teens and drinking and driving. In October, 2013, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and State Farm released information that may show these efforts are paying off, especially when it comes to teens and alcohol consumption.

This survey revealed that 77% of the teenagers polled do not drink alcohol. The reasons that were cited varied from health problems and interference with school success to not wanting parents to disapprove of their actions. For any parent, teacher or caregiver of a teenager, these figures indicate a positive trend with teens and drinking alcohol, and perhaps a reason to breathe easier when handing over the car keys to a teenage driver.

Alcohol Dangers for Pets

bigstock-two-cute-young-kittens-sharing-18391883After the ball has dropped on New Year’s Eve and people begin to get back into the daily groove of life, the resolutions for a healthier, better, more successful year begin to ring out around the world. One of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is to drink less alcohol. This resolve is important, especially when considering many people still drive after drinking, causing accidents, injuries and even deaths for too many people.

Alcohol can not only be dangerous for humans, but, also for beloved pets. Sometimes, people may find the concept of a dog or cat drinking humorous, when in fact, giving an animal alcohol can be deadly.  Alcohol affects pets in much the same way as it does humans, however, and pouring that tiny bit of beer into a pet’s  water bowl can be a big mistake. Many veterinarians caution that because of the smaller size of our animals, even a tiny bit of alcohol can put a pet into a dangerous situation requiring emergency medical care.

Another caution with pets and alcohol is the pet owner who tries to drive after drinking with a furry friend in the car. Pets that ride in cars are not always harnessed, as is recommended by veterinarians, but are instead allowed to roam free in the vehicle. Much like with DUI and child endangerment, a pet has no choice about riding with a driver who has been drinking. If an intoxicated person has an accident, the pet is in danger of an injury in general, but, with no safety belts to keep a pet in one place, the animal can be seriously injured or killed.

Drinking responsibly is a great gift for anyone, and especially for those who are unable to make a decision on how alcohol will affect their lives. When it comes to alcohol, always be sure that any pets or animals are safe and protected – whether in the home or while driving around in a vehicle. You will be assured of a safe and healthy relationship with your pet for many years to come.


Most Dangerous DUI State

MontanaStates compete for various titles when it comes to statistics, but, there likely is not a state in the country that wants to be known as the most dangerous when it comes to drinking and driving. KXLH.com reports that a recent report has named the state of Montana as the worst state in the country for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2012, with a staggering number of deaths attributed to DUI charges. The figures that were released show a higher incline of these fatalities than even the average across the country, giving Montana a reason to examine its current policies and more. Read more here: Report shows Montana has highest DUI fatality rate in U.S. for 2012

Should Legal BAC Limit be Subjective?

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the U.S. currently stands at .08%, allowing adults over the age of 21 to consume up to an average of four alcoholic drinks in about an hour before being considered legally drunk. With a recent recommendation to lower the BAC limit to .05%, there are differing opinions on the ability of that limit to significantly lower the number of lives lost to drunk drivers in the country. Twincities.com recently addressed the controversial debate and the various opinions by agencies like M.A.D.D. and the NTSB. Read more here: How drunk is too drunk to drive? It’s a debate

What is “No Refusal?”

bigstock-Confident-middle-aged-traffic--49169681For many years, drivers have operated their vehicles with the understanding that if pulled over for a suspected DUI (driving under the influence), they could refuse to give a breath or blood sample to law enforcement. Although a refusal may result in a driver’s license suspension, it often saved drunk drivers from a DUI conviction. In many jurisdictions around the country, prosecutors are unwilling to try for a DUI conviction without blatant evidence to help them prove their position. However, as more states embrace “no refusal” policies, drunk driving allegations become easier to prove.

What is a “no refusal” policy? Since drivers have the right to refuse breath and blood samples when pulled over for a suspected DUI, “no refusal” policies give law enforcement personnel the ability to obtain a search warrant while still on the scene. These warrants include the right to obtain a blood sample from the driver in question. Technically, drivers may still refuse to provide a blood sample, but with an issued warrant the stakes are higher. A refusal at that time could result in contempt charges and increased jail time.

With “no refusal” policies in place, prosecutors have an easier time getting DUI convictions. Normally, if a drunk driver refuses to give a breath or blood sample, by the time a warrant is issued to force a blood sample, the driver may have sobered or the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level dropped to below the legal limit of .08. “No refusal” policies provide warrants more quickly, so that by the time the driver is at the police station or designated place for the blood draw, a phlebotomist is waiting to acquire a blood sample. Prosecutors and judges work closely to make everything happen quickly, ensuring a case worth prosecuting.

States with “no refusal” policies in place usually provide many opportunities for drivers to know what is going on. There are generally special times of the year, especially around holidays, when law enforcement participates in concentrated patrols and sobriety checkpoints for the “no refusal” policies. One important aspect of these concentrated efforts is high visibility. Counties, cities, and states want drivers to know when they are conducting special “no refusal” efforts, because the goal is to reduce drunk driving fatalities. The more visible these endeavors are, the less likely people are to drive while intoxicated.

Statistics show that “no refusal” policies work. In states like Texas, where there are stricter “no refusal” policies in place, drunk driving fatalities have decreased since the implementation of the policies in 2005. While some people feel “no refusal” policies are a violation of rights, we must remember that they are in place to keep our streets safer. The easier it is to catch and convict a drunk driver, the safer the roads are for all of us and the more time our patrol officers can spend protecting us in other ways.