MADD: Mass. is Only State Without First-Offender Ignition Interlock Law

Device prevents vehicle from starting if driver has alcohol on breath...

From Mothers Against Drunk Driving

BOSTON  — Massachusetts is now the only state in the nation that does not allow for drunk driving offenders to use ignition interlocks after their first offense. Previously, Idaho and Massachusetts were the remaining two states without any type of program for first-time offenders to use the in-car breathalyzers rather than face license suspension. Idaho Governor Butch Otter last week signed into law legislation that requires first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock for one year.


“Previously, Idaho had one of the weakest ignition interlock laws, along with Massachusetts. Now Idaho will join 30 other states and Washington, D.C. in recognizing this is the best way to protect the public while also allowing a drunk driver to carry out normal daily activities. The only catch is the device on their car won’t let them drive drunk,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. 

Ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all-offender interlock laws reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent, which is why MADD is pushing for all-offender ignition interlock laws in all 50 states.  

MADD has been working in Massachusetts for three years to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law. Currently, interlocks are only required in Massachusetts after the second and subsequent drunk driving offense.


“All the New England states have all-offender ignition interlock laws, and we are pushing to make the July 31 deadline for passing a similar law in Massachusetts,” Sheehey-Church said. “Massachusetts residents and visitors deserve this protection from this violent, preventable crime.”


All-offender ignition interlock language was included in this year’s Senate’s Criminal Justice Reform legislation, but the language was unfortunately not included in the final conference committee report. Also, an all-offender bill (SB2006) was sent to a study order by the Joint Committee on Transportation.


Last year, the Senate for not only passed standalone legislation last session, but also passed the language again in the Criminal Justice Reform package in fall of 2017.


Ignition interlocks save lives. According to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), drunk driving fatalities are reduced by 16 percent in states with all-offender ignition interlock laws, while states that require ignition interlocks for repeat offenders only — like Massachusetts — on average experience a 3 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths.


For more information on ignition interlocks, visit

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on