Idaho’s Governor Signs All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law

idaho-signs-all-offender-ignition-interlock-lawIt began in California with something called the Farr-Davis Safety Act of 1986. That law required DUI offenders in four counties to use a new device called an ignition interlock, which used breathalyzer technology to prevent a car from starting if the driver has been drinking. The devices worked well, and  some public safety advocates wanted them for all offenders, not just repeat drunk drivers. In 2005 New Mexico became the first state to require all DUI offenders to use interlocks. Louisiana and Arizona followed, with good results: it was found that mandating the devices for all offenders reduced alcohol-related road deaths by a significant amount – in New Mexico’s case over 30 percent.

Which brings us to Idaho. 25 years later, Idaho has become the 31st state to require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. Governor Butch Otter just signed HB551 into law.

This is great news for Idahoans, who will be safer on the road. Every day convicted drunk drivers will try to drive after drinking – despite the law and what they know about the consequences – and every day the device will register “fail” and shut off their ignitions.

One state is an experiment. 30 is a trend, and it’s a trend that is saving lives all over the country. Our thanks to Gvernor Otter and the forward-thinking legislators who made HB551 possible.

When Will The US Finally End Drunk Driving?

end drunk driving Drunk driving has been a problem for as long as cars have been on the road, but no one managed to get a handle on it until the 1980s. That’s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stepped in and brought an about face to the growing issue of drunk driving in the United States. Since that time lawmakers, law enforcement, anti-drunk driving groups, and health experts have all been pushing to end drunk driving for good.

One set of experts just released a report and recommendations that they feel will eventually end drunk driving in the United States. Put out by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report is called, “Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities.”

The three main recommendations of this report including lowering the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC), eliminating off-site alcohol sales, and passing sweeping ignition interlock reform.

Lowering the BAC in the United States

The report recommends that all states should drop their legal BAC to .05. This isn’t a new idea, because the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been asking states to lower the BAC for several years.

Utah was the first state in the US who listened to this advice, and they’ve already stepped up and become the first to officially lower their legal BAC to .05. The change isn’t due to take place until December 30th, 2018, and there has been opposition to what some see as a drastic change.

But the reasoning behind dropping the legal BAC is solid: because alcohol affects everyone differently, one person may only need one or two drinks to be legally impaired. Any amount of alcohol has the power to affect your driving skills, and lowering the BAC would mean people may really think before they drink and drive.

Removing alcohol sales from gas stations

It’s easy to buy alcohol when it’s as available as gas for your car, and when you put alcohol in a gas station, it makes it all too tempting to drink it while you’re driving. The report stated that removing alcohol from gas stations and drive-through stores would make it less likely people would drink and drive.

Ignition interlocks in all states

All states have some sort of ignition interlock law, but not all states require ignition interlocks for all offenders. The report recommends that all offenders, even first-time offenders who are arrested with a .08 BAC, are required to use the device to prevent them from driving drunk again.

There’s hope in the fact that drunk driving in the United States has decreased since the 1980s. It’s just disheartening that there’s still thousands upon thousands of people who make the choice to drive drunk every year considering the public education, strict laws, and technology like ignition interlocks to stop them. If the recommendations from this report are taken seriously and put into place by lawmakers in the USA, this could be the first glimmer of hope that they can actually end drunk driving sooner than later.

There’s A Bright Side To The Florida Ignition Interlock Program

Florida Ignition InterlockTaking part in the Florida ignition interlock program is a requirement for a Florida DUI, but only if a few conditions are met. First offenders need to install one if they are arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .15, and second, third, and other repeat offenders must use the device for at least a year after conviction.

When you are required to use an interlock, you can expect, as part of your Florida ignition interlock program, to stop driving after drinking any amount of alcohol. What you wouldn’t expect is that the very same device can also stop someone from stealing your car. Or, if it doesn’t stop that person, it can slow them down and record evidence too.

Need an example? A 17-year-old from Hillsborough County, Florida was recently arrested after he stole a car outside of a McDonald’s restaurant recently. The owner of the car was standing outside of the restaurant and had left his car running nearby. The teen decided to jump into the car and drive away, and when he did the owner gave chase.

The owner was dragged by the vehicle before he let go, and the teen took off. It was found abandoned the next morning, and although you’d think the teen got away free and clear, think again. Because of the Florida ignition interlock requirement, this teen was caught in the act.

Ignition interlock devices are equipped with a camera that records the driver providing a breath sample. This teen had to blow into the device to start the car, and he was most likely required to blow into it again for a rolling retest. Maybe he didn’t realize his photo was being taken every time he blew into it, but whether he knew or not, photographic evidence was easily obtained thanks to the interlock.

An ignition interlock is a penalty, and most people just want to get through their program, drive sober, and move on with their lives. But if you look on the positive side, that interlock can teach you to drive sober and, if you lose your car due to theft, it can help identify the thief too.

Are Wisconsin OWI Offenders Skipping Their Interlocks?

Wisconsin OWI The news is full of stories about drunk drivers violating Wisconsin OWI laws, and that’s not really surprising all things considered. At this time first time offenders who are arrested for Wisconsin OWI receive what amounts to nothing more than a traffic ticket.

But letting those first-time offenders get off easily can result in that person becoming a second, third, or four-time offender, and once they get to that point the Wisconsin penalty system will kick in and they’ll be forced to pay the price.

Unfortunately a lot of offenders seem to be weighing whether or not they want to actually comply with those penalties, many people may be skipping out on their ignition interlock program. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were over 300 convictions relating to either tampering with or failing to install an ignition interlock.

An ignition interlock—a device that requires the drunk driving offender to blow an alcohol-free breath sample before the engine will turn over, is required to be installed on every repeat Wisconsin OWI offender’s vehicle. They are also required for any first-time offender who is arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher and anyone who refuses the breathalyzer when suspected of drunk driving.

Without an ignition interlock to stop a convicted drunk driver, that driver can continue to get behind the wheel while drunk. If that happens, he or she could easily crash and kill someone or themselves. That’s why the Wisconsin Bureau of Transportation Safety plans on creating a ignition interlock monitoring program.

In order to monitor all ignition interlock offenders, the bureau will need to pair with law enforcement and keep track of all offenders and all data relating to an ignition interlock. From the moment of arrest that person will need to be tracked, and that’s a big project for the state.

But out of all the states that should make the effort, Wisconsin is at the top of the list. More than fines, fees, and even jail time, ignition interlocks need to be part of a drunk driver’s rehabilitation program. If they aren’t, there’s no way to change their behavior.

Wisconsin Ignition Interlock Loophole Officially Closed

Wisconsin ignition interlockThere’s a lot going on in Wisconsin, not the least of which is that Wisconsin ignition interlock laws are officially changing for the better. But is ‘better’ enough to stop drunk drivers in the state?

Governor Walker just signed several new bills into law, and one of them dealt with Wisconsin ignition interlock interlock laws. An ignition interlock — a device that requires a convicted drunk driver to blow into a tube to assess his or her blood alcohol content (BAC), is currently not required for first time offenders in Wisconsin. Repeat offenders are required to install the device.

The bill closes a loophole in Wisconsin ignition interlock law that allowed these offenders to avoid installing the device at all. Because an offender is required to lose his or driver’s license for a period of time, they were only required by the court to install an ignition interlock when the driver’s license was reinstated.

Some operating while impaired (OWI) offenders in Wisconsin were driving their cars before their license was reinstated, but if they were stopped for driving on that suspended license, they wouldn’t receive a citation for driving without an interlock. That’s because the interlock wasn’t required yet. The problem with an offender driving on a suspended license is that there is nothing to stop that person from driving drunk again.

The bill changes Wisconsin ignition interlock laws to require an interlock to be installed immediately upon conviction, and that interlock will eliminate the possibility that the offender can drive drunk again.

It’s a step in the right direction for Wisconsin, but an even better step would be requiring all offenders, including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, to drive with an interlock. Wisconsin needs to take a look at passing sweeping new interlock laws to include all offenders, because that’s the best way to clear the roads of drunk drivers.

When Will Lawmakers Pass A Florida Ignition Interlock Bill?

Florida ignition interlock lawWhy would a state pass up an opportunity to crack down on their drunk driving problem? When you consider how significant Florida’s drunk driving problem is, it’s surprising that lawmakers just let the Florida ignition interlock bill die before it could make it to the Governor’s desk.

Both MADD and police stood in support of an update to the Florida ignition interlock laws, and the proposed bill was for the stiffest interlock penalty you can pass: an all offender ignition interlock law. An interlock is a device that will stop any drunk driving offender from starting their vehicle when that person has been drinking. Having an all offender law means that everyone, first offenders included, would be required to use the device for a period of time.

There’s a major difference between the Florida ignition interlock law they have in place and  what an offender ignition interlock law would bring to the table. Right now if you’re stopped for drunk driving in Florida and it’s your first offense you will only be required to use an interlock if you meet one of two conditions:  if you’re blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher or if you have a minor under the age of 18 in your vehicle at the time of arrest. You’ll also only be required to use an interlock for six months.

Just how badly is a Florida ignition interlock bill needed? One repeat drunk driver from Marion County, Florida provides the perfect example of what’s going on in the state. She was arrested for DUI four years ago and when she was convicted based on a near lethal BAC of .410, she told the judge that she was going to get help so it didn’t happen again.

Just this year she drove drunk again, and this time, just like many other repeat drunk drivers, she killed someone. Once again her BAC at the time of arrest was .402, and now she’s facing DUI manslaughter charges.

If Florida had an all offender interlock law four years ago, this offender would have driven with an interlock and may not have decided to drive drunk again. There’s also no way of knowing how many times she’s been driving drunk in those four years, and that’s why it’s important to use interlocks the first time someone is arrested.

Let’s hope the Florida ignition interlock bill will live again, and the state will decide to pass this life saving law.

Here’s Why You Should Take Maryland Ignition Interlock Law Seriously

Maryland ignition interlock Maryland drunk driving offenders should take note: judges in your state take Maryland ignition interlock law very seriously, and you might want to think twice about violating the conditions of your ignition interlock program.

It’s a extreme example, but one that’s worth paying attention to. One Maryland woman killed two men in a drunk driving crash back in 2009, and she was sentenced to jail for her crime. She served four years and was released early with the condition she install and use an ignition interlock, she remain on probation, and she was not to drink alcohol.

Instead of sticking to the terms of her probation, she violated it by drinking alcohol. How did the judge know she did that? It was thanks to her ignition interlock. She blew into it and locked it 10 different times because she had alcohol on her breath.

In her defense, the woman claimed that it was Altoids that resulted in the ignition interlock failures. Fortunately, the judge didn’t buy that excuse. He called her a liar and sent her back to prison for 16 more years.

Clearly the Maryland ignition interlock law is working in the state. Also known as Noah’s Law, it was passed one year ago after Officer Noah Leotta’s family waged a long battle to bring it to Maryland. Noah’s Law requires that all drunk driving offenders — including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, use the device in any vehicle they drive.

If this offender would not have been required to install an ignition interlock as part of her probation, she could have drove drunk again and killed someone else in the process. Now she’ll be spending an additional 16 years in prison considering why she would make the choice to drive drunk again.

It might seem like it’s just you and your ignition interlock in the car and it won’t matter if you fail the breath test, but this case shows that violating your ignition interlock program is a serious offense. Nothing good can come of it if you do.

29 Year Jail Sentence For Florida Drunk Driving Crash

Florida drunk driving crashHow much jail time is enough for causing a Florida drunk driving crash? If one man from Jupiter, Florida is any indication, it’s a lot longer than you might think.

A man by the name of Admerson Cleber Eugenio Vicente-Vicente was driving in Pompano Beach in 2015. He was drunk, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.170, and he drove straight into two sisters who were heading to their mother’s house. Both died from their injuries.

This is a Florida drunk driving crash that shouldn’t have happened, and that’s because this offender shouldn’t have been driving, period. He was a repeat offender charged with DUI in 2010. Caught driving with a suspended driver’s license twice since that time, his last conviction resulted in his driver’s license being revoked for five years.

Now he’ll be spending 29 years in prison for killing two sisters, and he should count himself fortunate — he could have received 15 years per victim, and the judge also decided to give him credit for time served.

It’s clear from this case that the statistics on driver’s license suspension are accurate. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has shared data showing 50 to 70% of drunk drivers will continue to drive on a suspended license, and when they do, this is can happen.

This Florida drunk driving crash also shows just how much Florida needs an all offender ignition interlock law. An all offender ignition interlock law — requiring ignition interlocks for first offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, is a requirement in 30 states right now. Why doesn’t Florida, a state with a serious drunk driving problem and numerous drunk driving crashes each year, have an all offender law yet?

It’s a question someone may want to ask lawmakers in the Florida Senate. They just allowed a bill that would have required ignition interlocks for all offenders to die this past spring, and there’s no sign of bringing it back to life yet.

How much longer will Florida wait to pass this lifesaving law?

Big Changes Could Come To Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws

Wisconsin drunk driving laws The holiday season is about to kick off and with it comes big news in the world of Wisconsin drunk driving. There are four new bills on the table in front of the Wisconsin Senate, and if they pass there’s going to be big changes coming for drunk driving laws.

Here’s a look at what the bills propose and what will change for Wisconsin drunk driving laws if they pass.

First drunk driving offense will be a crime

Wisconsin is the only state that doesn’t criminalize a first operating while impaired (OWI) offense, and that’s long been a bone of contention for anti-drunk driving advocates in the state. If a new bill passes a first time OWI will be finally be criminalized, and that means first offenders are treated more seriously than if they were being stopped for a simple traffic ticket.

Ignition interlocks for more offenders

Although they aren’t contemplating an all offender ignition interlock law – requiring an ignition interlock for first offenders charged with a BAC of .08 or over, Wisconsin lawmakers are considering an upgrade to their current laws. They’d like to bring in an interlock law for any offender charged with a BAC of .15 or higher.

If you kill someone due to drunk driving, you’re looking at a long prison sentence

There’s no walking away from a drunk driving crash when you’ve killed someone, and for that crime in Wisconsin you could be spending more time in prison. At the very minimum you could receive five years in prison for a drunk driving crash causing death.

Repeat offender? You’re looking at more jail time too

It’s hard to believe that people can rack up five and six OWI offenses without realizing that drunk driving is the wrong choice. These offenders may finally get the message if a new bill requiring more jail time passes, or at the very least they’ll have more time to think about their choice. Instead of six months in jail, they could be looking at 18 months behind bars.

These bills have the potential to change Wisconsin drunk driving laws for the better, but more can be done in the state. An all offender ignition interlock law that works to put an interlock on every offender’s vehicle would be a good step for the state.

The device stops first offenders from becoming repeat offenders, and if other states with all offender laws are any indication, once you do that you can drop your drunk driving rates significantly.

New Bills May Be Just What Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law Needs

Massachusetts drunk drivingThere’s a lot going on in the world of Massachusetts drunk driving lately, and a few new bills have been proposed to stop drunk driving offenders and ensure safer roads for everyone in the state.

Out of all the bills, the one that’s generating the most interest is the Massachusetts ignition interlock bill. This bill has been on the agenda several times but it’s never passed, and now Representative Louis Kafka has brought it to the table again.

The bill proposes that anyone convicted of drunk driving for the first time would be required to use an ignition interlock device for six months. An ignition interlock – a device that tests your blood alcohol content (BAC) every time you start the car, would be required instead of a driver’s license suspension.

If passed, the new law would be a change from current ignition interlock laws designed to stop Massachusetts drunk driving. Right now, ignition interlocks are only required for offenders charged two or more times and who receive a hardship driver’s license.

Representative Kafka has made a passionate plea for ignition interlocks as a means for drunk drivers to continue to work, drive their families, and resume their lives after a Massachusetts drunk driving conviction, but the bill has a long road before it’s law.

A similar bill never made it out of the House Ways and Means Committee when it was proposed, and this bill is currently in front of the Transportation Committee and waiting for a hearing. Although it’s in limbo the good news is that organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and AAA are all testifying on behalf of it, so there’s a positive force pushing it forward.

This could be the year that Massachusetts focuses on public safety and puts a lock down on all drunk driving offenders. Let’s hope there’s good news coming from the state soon.

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