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U.S. pushes states to require first-time drunk drivers to submit to breath tests in cars

Drink on bar

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to hinder first-time drunk drivers from making the same mistake twice. Photo by NewsHour Weekend

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wants states to create a surefire barrier for drunk drivers attempting to get behind the wheel of a car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released guidelines on Tuesday for states to use “ignition interlock programs,” the Associated Press reports. In the program, states would require first-time drunk drivers to install breath analyzer devices in their vehicle’s ignition system. If the driver has been drinking, the car won’t start.

Currently 20 states require the devices for first-time offenders. On Monday, the New Jersey state assembly advanced legislation requiring the devices for first-time offenders, expanding the program that includes repeat offenders and those who are found to have a blood alcohol at nearly twice the legal limit.

Foxx spoke at an event in Washington kicking off the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown.

The NHTSA reports that in 2012, deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. During last year’s holiday season alone, 830 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes.

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