MADD pushing for lawmakers to pass tougher DUI penalties

Published: Apr. 19, 2017 at 11:28 PM EDT
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By: Erika Fernandez

April 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was at the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, pushing for tougher penalties against drunk drivers in the state.

The group testified on legislation requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders.

We spoke to members of MADD who say they want to see more of these devices in Florida.

The ignition interlock device is proving to save lives.

Kristen Allen with MADD of Northwest Florida, says, "This is the only proven device that stops a driver from getting behind the wheel and driving drunk. So it really is about saving their life and everyone else's life in the road."

The device is an in-car breathalyzer. It attaches to the steering wheel and only unlocks if the user's blood alcohol level is below the legal limit.

"I guarantee your parents or your loved ones don't want to receive that knock on the door from law enforcement that says your loved one has been killed due to this crash," Allen says.

"Going through that horrific pain, I don't want anybody else to go through that, or as few people as possible," says mother, Amy Jameison.

Jameison got one of those visits 19 years ago. Her 16-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver.

"Death is a part of life, but not this way. Burying my son was probably the worst thing I've ever had to do and will ever have to do in my life," Jameison said.

Jameison, who volunteers for MADD, testified Wednesday.

She says this new law gives the offender the opportunity to help themselves.

"It gives them a second chance also, because we all make mistakes and we learn by our mistakes so this enables them to change their habits,"Jameison said.

Currently, 21 states require ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders. MADD says those states are seeing a nearly 50 percent drop in deadly DUI crashes.

MADD has two more chances to speak with lawmakers about the bill.