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Officials: Breath Sensors Are Preventing DUI Fatalities

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A police officer conducts a breathalyzer test.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A police officer conducts a breathalyzer test. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Having to install a breath-sensor in your car is an expense and an inconvenience, but apparently, an effective deterrent to drinking and driving.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office credits the BAIID – the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device – with a drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

“Illinois became, in ’09, the largest state in the country to go to using the BAIID on the first offense,” said Secretary of State’s office spokesman Dave Druker. “So the BAIID will be implemented if you got stopped for drunk driving, before you went to court.”

Druker says between 2009 and 2010, the number of DUI-related fatalities has dropped from 480 to 436 – a decline of 9 percent.

In November, Illinois received the state’s top safety rating from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Secretary of State Jesse White credited the BAIID for the rating.

IF a BAIID is installed, the car will not start unless the driver blows a clean breath into the device.

White acknowledged in November that the device is not completely foolproof. The car can start if the passenger blows clean in place of a drunk driver.

“So yes, you can do that, but you’re looking for a one-year period of time in jail,” he said, “and it also should send another message to you, and that is, in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person at the wheel.”

“I wouldn’t think anyone would want this, and hopefully it does serve as that deterrent, and the more the public becomes aware of this, the more successful the program is going to be,” Druker said.

White said there are now 12,000 Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices in use in Illinois.

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