Proposed PA Law Would Require Ignition Interlock for 1st-Time DUIs

FEBRUARY 11, 2015

As a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney who handles a high volume of DUI defense cases, I will be the first to admit that I don’t agree with much of what Mothers Against Drunk Driving does.

For example, I absolutely do not believe that lowering the standard for DUIs – making .02 percent the legal limit as opposed to the current standard of .08 percent – will reduce the number of drunk drivers or drunk driving incidents.

With that said, I am supportive of an effort to change Pennsylvania law to make DUIs punishable by ignition interlock – an effort MADD also champions.

I am a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia (where you MUST have an ignition interlock device installed in order to participate in the state’s first-time offender program). Myriad Pennsylvania DUI clients have commented that they would far prefer to bear the cost and inconvenience of the ignition interlock if it meant they wouldn’t have to endure a license suspension (the way it is in West Virginia).

I’m a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer for my clients first: And believe that a license suspension does nothing more in most cases than further their legal troubles. Some clients have lost their jobs when they lost their licenses because they could no longer commute to and from their offices. And without a job, it’s tough to pay the fines and court costs associated with a DUI.

I, of course, will acknowledge that DUI defendants aren’t victims – they chose to drink and then get behind the wheel. However, making the system more difficult and costly to navigate does nothing- including for the cause of DUI prevention.

But studies have proven that ignition interlock systems DO decrease drunk driving incidents.

In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlock systems are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.

Yes, 67 percent.

That’s why I’m interested in learning more about the proposal MADD is backing, a proposal from Sen. John Rafferty – SB 290 and HB 278 authored by Rep. Keith Greiner – which would require convicted drunk drivers with BACs of .10 percent or more use an ignition-interlock device for a period of at least six months.

It should also be noted that both bills follow the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and every major traffic safety organization, including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

What do you think?

UPDATE:

In 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed this legislation into law. It took effect on August 25, 2017, and requires first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of .10 percent or higher to have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle for at least a year, or have their driver’s license suspended for a year. Most of these first-time offenders are eligible to drive with an ignition interlock immediately. Others will have to go through the license suspension before getting the device and accompanying Ignition Interlock License.

Source: New law will change how first-time DUI offenders are punished

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