Retailers Argue Against Blanket DUI Penalties

By Mary Ann

According to the American Beverages Licensees (ABL), there are widespread efforts to make ignition interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI. With a BAC limit of 0.08 percent, drivers are being arrested for behavior that, according to numerous studies, impairs them less than talking on a hands-free cell phone. Some people can reach a 0.08 BAC drinking just two glasses of wine in two hours, not what most people would consider drunk driving.

Recognizing that the average BAC of drivers involved in fatal crashes is more than twice the legal limit, most states have created enhanced-BAC penalties to allow judges to impose a more severe penalties on drivers who are likely to cause a fatal accident. Proposals to make interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of DUI would punish all DUIs equally, regardless of severity.

The ABL says that “ignition interlocks can be likened to attaching a device to keep a vehicle from going over 60 miles per hour to the car of a driver caught driving 100 mph in a school zone — a somewhat extreme and intrusive measure that can be justified by the driver’s reckless disregard for public safety. But you wouldn’t call for the same punishment for someone who has driven five miles over the speed limit on the highway. It is similarly illogical to mandate a one-size-fits-all penalty that lumps together contrite first-time offenders and those who brazenly and repeatedly break the law and put others in harm’s way.”

The ABL recommends that states create a graduated system of treatment and punishment, helping those who can be helped and punishing those that recklessly ignore DUI laws, rather than passing “feel good” legislation that ignores judicial discretion and shifts focus from the real cause of DUI fatalities … hard core drunk drivers and repeat offenders.

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