Ignition Interlock Device Laws Become More Common
By: Gerri Elder
If you've been following DUI legislation this year, you would have definitely noticed how breath alcohol ignition interlock devices are becoming an increasingly popular means to fight DUI and attempt to prevent convicted offenders from driving drunk again.
An alcohol ignition interlock device may be installed on the vehicle of certain DUI offenders and basically requires a person to blow into a breathalyzer in order for the car to turn over and start. Depending on the guidelines of specific state DUI laws, the ignition interlock device may prevent the car from starting if any blood alcohol content or a certain amount of BAC is detected. A convicted offender may also be required to pull over several times during a driving trip and blow intro the breathalyzer again to make sure that no alcohol is being consumed.
With that said, state legislators and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been heavily championing the use of ignition interlock devices this year, and the results have become apparent in pieces of legislation.
On May 18th, Arizona officially joined New Mexico as states requiring all DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. Governor Janet Napolitano officially signed SB1029 into an Arizona DUI law that now requires all DUI offenders in the Cactus State to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for at least one year after resuming driving.
Before this new Arizona DUI law, ignition interlock devices were only required in the vehicles of repeat DUI offenders and those who were convicted of extreme or aggravated DUI in the state. New Mexico enacted a similar piece of legislation into law in 2005, and the results have been interesting to say the least. In the first year of that law, a Springfield Journal Register story detailed how New Mexico witnessed a 12-percent reduction in fatal drunk driving accidents.
Similar Ignition Interlock Laws Proposed in Illinois, South Carolina and Oregon
Arizona Governor Napolitano may not soon be alone in terms of signing legislation involving ignition interlock devices. Governor Ted Kulongoski will be considering an Oregon DUI law that would require first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices for at least a year (which would double the current six-month requirement in the state) after regaining their driving privileges. Total DUI has also previously detailed proposed ignition interlock laws "turning over" in Illinois and South Carolina, and here are the latest updates.
Like a proposed Illinois personal injury law waiting on the right hand of Rod, the fate of ignition interlock legislation in the state is now in the hands of Governor Rod Blagojevich. Specifically under this Illinois DUI legislation, first-time DUI offenders would have to install an ignition interlock system in their vehicles if they wanted to drive to work while their driver's licenses were suspended. The aforementioned Springfield Journal Register story noted that this proposed Illinois DUI law would apply to anyone who was pulled over on suspicion of DUI and failed or refused a breath test. A Blagojevich spokesman did not reveal whether the Governor would sign this legislation, but he has slightly less than 60 days to do so.
A proposed South Carolina DUI law involving ignition interlock devices would not be as aggressive as the recently signed DUI law in Arizona but would represent another effort to curb drunk driving in the state. Governor Mark Sanford is currently considering legislation that would require repeat DUI offenders in the state to pay for the installation of ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. The state was hoping to add this stipulation to first-time DUI offenders who had extreme DUI (with a BAC of 0.15 percent or more), but this suggestion garnered much opposition. This legislation would also tackle underage drinking by allowing police officers to find out who purchased kegs for parties where minors were drinking and letting minors buy alcohol during police stings of bars and convenience stores. This comprehensive DUI legislation just recently passed the South Carolina General Assembly hours before the legislature adjourned for 2007, and its fate now rests with Sanford.