Pennsylvania Ponders Parody-Proof Paternalistic Proposal


The Keystone state joins New York and New Mexico in considering legislation that would mandate ignition interlock devices in all vehicles sold in the state. The Pennsylvania proposal is actually worse:

Clymer's proposal would require that, by 2009, all new cars sold in Pennsylvania have a device installed to estimate the amount of alcohol on the breath of a driver. If the machine believes the driver's BAC is greater than .025 percent—significantly less than the legal limit of .08 percent—the car will not start. By 2010, all motorists would be forced to install the devices on existing cars before being able to sell them as used vehicles.

Several states have mandated ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunk driving, creating a booming business for manufacturers of the devices. Court-ordered interlocks generally cost up to $200 to install with $125 in monthly maintenance fees. Permanent installation of such devices would add more than $1000 to the cost of new vehicles. The Sens-O-Lock brand, for example, lists for $1595.

A .025 limit is essentially zero tolerance. For most people it would mean a single drink, and you won't be driving for a solid hour. Hell, in some cases, a slice of toast could prevent you from starting your car. It would basically restrict the use of alcohol to one's home, particularly in areas where there isn't much in the way of public transportation or access to taxicabs.

It probably doesn't have much chance of passing. Yet. The bill in New Mexico requiring all cars to install the devices inches closer to passing each year. The state, under the stewardship of alleged libertarianish Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson, already requires the devices for first-time offenders. Richardson has said he supports the law mandating the devices in all vehicles as well.