The lead administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that all states should mandate the use of an ignition interlock device for anyone convicted of driving under the influence. The proposed change comes as data shows the number of drunk driving deaths rose by more than 4 percent last year to over 10,000.
The NHTSA says that while there has been some marked success in the campaign to fight drunk driving, not enough has been done to keep repeat offenders off the road. Rather than focus on only those arrested with exceptionally high blood alcohol concentrations or those who have been convicted multiple times, the NHTSA says that everyone found guilty of driving drunk, even first time offenders, should be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has come out in full support of the NHTSA, saying that ignition interlock devices are effective means of keeping impaired drivers off the roads. The group notes research which says first time offenders seldom are, with the average person driving drunk 87 times before finally being caught.
Currently, ignition interlock devices are used in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, states vary widely in how the devices are used and which drivers are required to install them. In West Virginia, for example, interlock devices are only ordered at a judge’s discretion while Michigan mandates their use for drivers who are found with a BAC more than twice the state’s legal limit. Here in Minnesota, the law says that all first time offenders with a BAC above 0.16 percent as well as all second time offenders will be given the option of using an ignition interlock device to restore their driving privileges sooner than if they did not have the device installed. Only 20 states require that ignition interlock devices be used for anyone convicted of a drunk driving offense.
The NHTSA says it wants to change these discrepancies and has released a model rule that it hopes all 50 states will adopt. The model rule covers first-time offenders with a BAC just over the legal limit and would require the installation of ignition interlock devices on hundreds of thousands more vehicles.
Studies indicate that ignition interlock devices are effective, with data indicating they keep those previously convicted of a DWI from repeating their behavior 75 percent of the time. The goal of the new proposal mandating the use of the ignition interlock device is to lower the risk faced by innocent motorists, hopefully saving thousands of lives in the process. Whether the states are interested in considering such sweeping legal changes remains to be seen.
Why Hire a DUI Attorney in Minneapolis, MN to Challenge Ignition Interlock?
It has been about two and a half years since the Ignition Interlock Program was initiated statewide here in Minnesota for individuals that have been charged with DWI and meet certain criteria. For repeat DWI offenders, the ignition interlock has been helpful. Instead of facing potentially years of a driver’s license revocation or cancelation, these individuals are now able to drive under certain conditions within a relatively short period of time from their offense date. However, for Minnesotan’s that have no prior DUI offenses, but were unfortunate enough to obtain a BAC reading of .16 or more, the requirement of the interlock device and “whiskey plates” can be devastating.
It is important for people to understand that you have the right to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license through the implied consent process. This is a civil hearing that requires the driver to file a petition with the district court within 30 days from the date of their Minnesota notice of license revocation. If the challenge is successful AND they are not convicted of a DUI criminal offense, the requirement of having to install the ignition interlock device for one year is rescinded. Therefore, it is extremely important to at least contact an attorney that focuses on drunk driving related offenses to arrange a free case review to determine any potential legal issues you may have for a successful challenge.
Source: “Feds want ignition interlocks for drunk drivers,” by Paul Eisenstein, published at NBCNews.com.