ABI Takes Stand Against Ignition Interlock Movement

WASHINGTON – Today the American Beverage Institute (ABI), which represents thousands of American restaurants, criticized the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers for supporting a movement to mandate ignition interlocks in all American cars.

Yesterday, 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 allot $30 million annually to develop of ignition interlock devices to be installed as standard equipment on all cars.

The auto manufacturers have partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Federal Government in a project (DADSS.org) to develop these new interlock technologies and mandate their installation on all vehicles within 5-10 years.

“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.”

While groups like MADD and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers claim universal interlocks will be set at the legal limit of 0.08, 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 0.03-0.04. 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.

“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.”

The American Beverage Institute strongly urges Congress to reject the universal interlocks campaign.

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