The Learn More About the Organization series is intended to educate the public about members of the Texas Impaired Driving Task Force. This week’s featured organization is Smart Start. Answers to the questions are provided by the organization.
Describe your work as it relates to combating impaired driving in the state.
Smart Start is an international alcohol monitoring technology company headquartered right in Texas. As a provider and manufacturer of Ignition Interlocks, we help drivers arrested because of a DWI get back on the road safely if they are given the option to have an Interlock and regain their driving privileges.
Ignition Interlocks are device breath analyzers installed in someone’s vehicle through a court order upon a DWI conviction or arrest, or someone can install the device voluntarily. Interlocks physically prevent alcohol-impaired individuals from getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. In fact, Ignition interlocks are the only prevention technology that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports to end drunk driving because they stop someone from getting behind the wheel intoxicated when it is installed. We’ve worked with MADD over the years to pass stronger laws on Ignition Interlocks in Texas and throughout the U.S., and we are also a member of the national Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers (CIIM.)
Since 1992, Smart Start’s Ignition Interlocks have prevented more than 11 million vehicle starts where alcohol was present in the driver’s system. And Smart Start has prevented between 4 and 5 million vehicle starts where the driver had alcohol in their system in Texas. We’ve also reached our one-million customer milestone recently.
In Texas, we currently have more than 100 service locations across the state. We also assist all our clients on a 24/7/365 basis from our main Customer Care Center in Grapevine, which is located in the DFW area.
Describe your program.
Smart Start’s goal is to Separate Drinking From Driving®. We want to help our clients recognize the dangerous decision behind drinking and driving, and to provide them information regarding changing that behavior if desired. With our Ignition Interlock program, we assist the driver throughout their DWI case … starting from arrest to when they regain their driving privileges with our Ignition Interlocks. We also assist them with their court and administrative requirements to get their license back, and what their next step is. For example, we can point them toward the proper contacts they need to reinstate their driving privileges such as DUI schools, treatment centers, SR-22 insurance providers, attorneys and others. Our 24/7/365 Customer Care Center can also answer their questions and provide any assistance throughout their program at any time. Essentially, we’re their partner throughout the process.
How does being a member of the Texas Impaired Driving Task Force enhance the work you’re doing?
We are all united toward a common goal, which is combating impaired driving in Texas. Being a member allows us to be a part of the impaired driving community, and understand the legislation, policies and procedures that are related to impaired drivers. On the other hand, it also allows us to bring our combined knowledge to the Task Force from our national networks. We have approximately 40 Judicial Services Liaisons, or JSLs, in the field throughout the U.S. who are working across the nation to bring knowledge back for us to know and learn even more about other state-impaired driving programs.
What would you like the public to know about impaired driving?
Impaired driving continues to be an epidemic that destroys lives, but is completely preventable. Alcohol-related crashes alone claimed 10,497 lives nationwide in 2016. In the same year in Texas, there were 1,438 drunk driving deaths. If we continue to use effective treatment and technology, and pass stronger laws to reduce impaired driving-related deaths, we can save more lives, and our roads can be safer overall.
What would you like the public to know about your program?
Smart Start has a passion to prevent impaired driving. Over the years, our products and services have influenced the industry to prevent future impaired driving cases. We want to continue partnering with national organizations such as MADD to pass stronger legislation in each state that is related to preventing impaired driving, such as all-offender Ignition Interlock laws. Currently, 32 states and D.C. have an all-offender Interlock law. MADD’s approach to eliminating drunk driving comes in four ways, and is equal parts prevention and invention: more high-visibility law enforcement; the development of advanced vehicle technology; the all-offender Ignition Interlock law in every state; and public support.
Do you have any upcoming events?
Come visit and speak with us at any of the upcoming summer conferences we are attending or exhibiting at (Texas and national):
Dallas County Coalition of Community Justice Agencies (DCCCJA)
July 18, 2018
State Bar of Texas – Advanced Criminal Law
San Antonio, TX
July 23 – 26, 2018
TASC – Drug Impact Conference
July 23 – 26, 2018
American Probation and Parole Association (APPA)
July 29 – August 1, 2018
Impaired Driving Symposium (TMCEC)
Horseshoe Bay, TX
August 2 – 3, 2018
TPA Legislative Conference
Las Colinas, TX
August 4 – 8, 2018
2018 Traffic Safety Conference
Sugar Land, TX
August 8 – 10, 2018
TCDLA – Top Gun DWI
August 17, 2018
International Interlock Symposium (IIS)
August 19 – 21, 2018
National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA)
Fort Worth, TX
August 19 – 22, 2018
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Annual International Conference (AAMVA)
August 21 – 23, 2018
Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (Joining Forces to get to Zero: Partnerships in Traffic Safety)
August 25 – 29, 2018