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Lawmaker wants more ignition locks for DUI drivers

New Mexico Department of Public Safety

In the wake of several fatal crashes in which alcohol likely played a role, state lawmakers are debating stricter DUI penalties.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, has proposed a bill to that would require suspected drunk drivers to use the ignition interlock device.

“If you are arrested for drunk driving, we already have a requirement that your car is to be impounded for 12 hours," said Goodman. "But the idea now is to have the ignition interlock device installed in your car, so when you pick it up from the lot, it’s in your car. And you will not be able to drive drunk at all, because the car won’t work."

Under current law, interlocks aren’t required until after a driver has been convicted. And even then, Goodman said, too many people avoid installing the device, as was the case with driver who crashed into a group of pedestrians in North Seattle in March. 

Thursday's crash on the 520 floating bridge was the latest of several deadly crashes in which drunk-driving is suspected. The victim, Morgan Williams, is remembered as a caring mother of two adult children and a long-time employee of Eddie Bauer.  

Williams had crashed, head-on, into an SUV whose driver appeared to have been drinking, according to troopers. He had apparently made a U-turn on the highway and was driving in the wrong direction.   

The driver had been arrested in December for suspicion of drunk driving. He pleaded not guilty and was not ordered to use an ignition lock.  

Goodman said he also suggested setting up DUI checkpoints to combat drunk driving, but the idea was not well-received by other lawmakers. 

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.