A lot of anti-drunk driving bills are proposed after a tragedy prompts local governments to make a serious change. Annie’s Law in Ohio was in response to the death of Annie Rooney, a lawyer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Noah’s Law, passed in Maryland and requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders, came to life after Officer Noah Leotta was hit by a drunk driver while working at a drunk driving checkpoint.
But sometimes new anti-drunk driving laws are proposed when a state is seeing a decrease in drunk drivers, and that’s what happening in Nevada right now. After a reported 11.4 percent decrease in drunk driving fatalities from 2015 to 2016, lawmakers have announced that they’re going to propose a bill that will bring better ignition interlock laws to Nevada.
The bill proposes that anyone who is driving under the influence (DUI) in Nevada would be able to voluntarily install an ignition interlock immediately after arrest. The logic behind it is that having the ignition interlock in their vehicle from the time of arrest to when they appear before a judge would stop them from re-offending while driving on a suspended license. It would also allow the offender to continue driving normally to work, school, or for family commitments.
Right now Nevada law requires ignition interlocks only at the discretion of a judge, even if you are a first or second offender. If this bill passes Nevada will toughen up their ignition interlock laws and offers an option for drivers who don’t want to wait out their suspensions without a vehicle, and that’s a good thing. Just keep in mind that a voluntary ignition interlock law is not the same as a mandatory all offender ignition interlock law.
Both Maryland and Ohio recently passed all offender ignition interlock laws, requiring all offenders, even someone arrested for the first time, to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they drive. That type of law has the power to reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will drive drunk again, and the states that have passed them have seen a real difference in their drunk driving arrest rates.
Nevada’s voluntary law is a step in the right direction, but if the state wants to see a more significant decrease in drunk drivers on the roads, an all offender ignition interlock law is the best next step they can take.