Breathalyzers Vs. Teen Drunk Driving

More and more parents are breathing new life into an old problem: teens drinking and driving.

As The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports, nearly 17,000 people are killed by drunk drivers in the United States every year.

Frequently, courts order repeat offenders to install breathalyzers in their cars.

Now, Kauffman points out, some adults are volunteering to get them. And others are insisting their teenage sons and daughters have them installed in their vehicles.

Steve Carter calls the breathalyzer he bought on his own for his car "a constant reminder, you know, to keep myself sober."

The device won't let the car start if there's any alcohol in his system.

"I'm not invincible," Carter, who lives in Colorado Springs, told Kauffman, "and, if I continue behaving and continue drinking in this manner, it's gonna kill me."

Or, Kauffman observes, someone else.

She says Carter's been to jail three times for driving under the influence.

He describes his violations as, "High speeds; tried to take a 90 degree, you know, city block turn and slammed headlong into a building. … That could easily have been another person."

Carter admits he shudders to think about it.

"It seems to me," Kauffman surmised, "that what's going on here isn't the punishment aspect, after you've gotten in trouble. It's the prevention aspect?"

"Oh, absolutely," Carter confirmed. "I think people can follow my lead, and I think we'll have a lot fewer drunk driving deaths."

How long does he think he'll have the breathalyzer in his vehicle?

"Probably forever," Carter says.

The majority of drunk driving accidents are caused by chronic drinkers, Kauffman notes. Studies show ignition-locking breathalyzers can cut those repeat offenses by at least 50 percent.

One New York legislator has actually proposed that breathalyzers be installed in every car, though the idea has drawn heavy opposition.

But, Kauffman asked, if the breathalyzers work for chronic adult offenders, might they also serve as a preventive measure for another high-risk group: teenagers?

Keller, Texas high school senior Amie Gallegus has never had a DUI. But she has a breathalyzer.

Her mother, Linda Salo, put the device in her car after Gallegus was cited for underage drinking.