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All Press Releases for December 12, 2013 »
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Understanding how proposed ignition interlock affects D.C. DUI offenders

A new bill would require that ignition interlock devices be installed in the vehicle of every person convicted of intoxicated driving.
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    December 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Driving under the influence is a crime that is taken very seriously in Washington, D.C. Even first-time DUI offenders can face serious consequences, and those consequences may soon become even more extensive, as a new Senate bill could require ignition interlock devices for all first-time offenders. Although critics worry about forcing every DUI offender to have one of these devices installed, proponents believe that interlock devices actually offer benefits even for people convicted of driving intoxicated.

Families of victims call for change

According to Pennsylvania's ABC 27, Senate Bill 1036 would require that ignition interlock devices be installed in the vehicle of every person convicted of intoxicated driving. Ignition interlock devices are small breathalyzers that only allow a vehicle to start if the detected blood-alcohol levels are below the legal limit. Family members of people fatally injured by intoxicated drivers visited Capitol Hill in October to speak to lawmakers in support of the bill, according to ABC 27.

Current law allows first-time DUI offenders in D.C. to be ordered to install an ignition interlock device, but the devices are not yet mandatory for every offender. There are already 20 states that require ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders. Proponents say that this is one of the most effective ways to prevent repeat DUI offenses, but critics say that the devices can be inconvenient or expensive to install and maintain.

Of course, ignition interlock devices offer benefits for the public. However, many people overlook the fact that these devices can also offer benefits for people who have been convicted of DUI.

Ignition interlock advantages

Mothers Against Drunk Driving holds that ignition interlock devices have the potential to save thousands of lives and that they are appropriate even for first-time offenders. The organization offers the following statistics:
- Interlock devices can reduce drunk driving by 64 percent.
- First-time DUI offenders drive intoxicated an average of 87 times before their first arrest.
- Estimates from research are that over 50 percent of drivers whose licenses have been revoked for DUI charges still drive.
- Public support of ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders is at 88 percent.

The potential benefits to the public are clear, but MADD also points out that ignition interlock devices can help people who have been convicted of DUI. Offenders who have an ignition interlock device installed may avoid having their licenses suspended, allowing them to continue working and going about their lives. Interlock devices can also prevent offenders from making the same mistake again and facing the heightened penalties that come with a second DUI conviction.

The passage of Senate Bill 1036 could make the roads safer while offering certain benefits to people convicted of DUI. In the meantime, ignition interlock can be requested for first-time offenders. Although these devices do present their drawbacks, in some cases DUI offenders find them more tolerable to live with than other DUI penalties.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Washington, D.C., it is crucial that you speak with an attorney at the earliest opportunity. An attorney will be familiar with the current relevant laws and will help you understand what your best options are.

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