A New Year and New DUI Laws


On Jan. 1, 2009, new DUI laws took effect in several states across the country.

New DUI laws in Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, South Carolina and Washington require drivers convicted of first offense DUI to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles to continue driving. The devices must remain on the vehicle for the duration of the license suspension.

Ignition interlock devices act as a breath test to check the blood alcohol content of a driver before the vehicle starts. If the blood alcohol content is above the minimal limit set by the law, the driver is unable to start the vehicle. DUI offenders who circumvent the devices or drive other vehicles not equipped with the devices during their license suspensions may face serious criminal charges.

These mandatory devices must be installed by an approved and certified business. The DUI offender is responsible for the cost of the installation, monthly recalibration, certification and removal of the device.

Tougher Ignition Interlock Law in Alaska

In Alaska, the new DUI law requires people convicted of a first offense DUI have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for 12 months, according to the Anchorage Daily News. A second DUI conviction now requires the ignition interlock system for two years, and a third conviction requires the device to be installed for three years. Any additional convictions require that the device remain installed for the length of probation.

Harsher DUI Penalties in Illinois

In addition to the ignition interlock measure, other changes to DUI laws in Illinois also took effect on Jan. 1. The Telegraph reported that previously under Illinois state law, drivers who failed breath tests and were convicted of first offense DUI had their driver's licenses suspended for three months. Drivers who refused to take a breath test received a six-month suspension.

Under the new DUI laws in Illinois, people with a first DUI offense who have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher will face a six-month driver's license suspension. DUI suspects who refuse to take breath tests will now have their driver's licenses suspended for a year. These suspensions take effect 46 days after the DUI arrest or testing date. If the case requires lab testing of blood or urine to determine blood alcohol content, the suspensions begin 46 days after the testing is complete.

Tennessee Strengthens Laws against Drunken Driving

The Jackson Sun reported that a new DUI law in Tennessee stiffens the penalty for vehicular assault and vehicular homicide if a child is injured or killed because of drunken driving.

California Lowers Legal BAC for Convicted DUI Offenders

In California, a new DUI law lowers the legal blood alcohol level for convicted DUI offenders. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that as of Jan. 1, drivers with previous DUI convictions could be criminally charged for driving with a blood alcohol content of .01 percent.

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