OUI arrests are down; so is law enforcement

MADD has proposed that a breathalyzer be wired into the ignition of a drunk driver’s car after a first offense.

Although arrests of drunk drivers have dipped significantly in the last five years, those rallying against operating while impaired are still pushing for law reform.

According to recent statistics released by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, there were 14,834 OUI offenses last year, down from 17,804 in 2008.

The numbers reflect both State Police and local law enforcement agencies.

But David DeIuliis, interim state director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said it’s still 14,834 too many. “I think we really shouldn’t be satisfied until those numbers are zero,” he said.

Last month, lawmakers heard support for a bill from MADD that would require breathalyzers in drunk drivers’ cars the first time they receive an OUI, rather than just for repeat offenders.

The proposed bill is an expansion on Melanie’s Law, enacted in 2005.

Under the current law, a second-time offender’s car won’t start unless they pass a test by blowing into a device hooked up to the vehicle. DeIuliis said the new law would require first-timers to have the same device installed.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said just because fewer people are caught driving drunk, doesn’t mean fewer people are doing it — just that there are fewer cops on the road.

“It’s a critical mission to get impaired drivers off the road before they kill somebody. But to do that, we do need more troopers,” he informed.

The sunny weather also boosts the amount of drunk drivers on the road, he said.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear


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