Federal legislators consider DUI Ignition Interlock bill

The Ignition Interlock Device has been around for quite some time, but it is quickly becoming a standard-issue device in response to drunk-driving convictions. Approximately 24 states have passed laws that require all DUI offenders to have an IID installed in order to have their driving privileges reinstated, even first-time offenders.

A law that took effect in West Virginia earlier this summer allows certain alleged DUI offenders to essentially avoid drivers’ license suspension and have an IID installed more quickly than they otherwise might (if they choose to go that route and if they qualify for participation). We recently wrote about how that law will affect drivers in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

According to a recent news article, federal legislators will soon be considering a bill that could make an IID mandate national law for all convicted DUI offenders. The Congresswoman who proposed the bill noted that about 10,000 people are killed in drunk-driving accidents each year on U.S. roads. She noted that “in addition to the enormous emotional toll, drunk driving costs taxpayers $132 billion each year. We know interlocks work and it’s time for every state to adopt this lifesaving measure.”

The legislation has the support of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In fact, the bill has been dubbed “Alisa’s Law,” and commemorates the daughter of MADD’s current president.

Any time that such sweeping legislation is proposed, it is particularly important to be careful of unintended consequences. How would such a law impact individuals who choose to contest DUI charges? How would it impact those who refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test? Would the law be structured in such a way as to incentivize a guilty plea even if a defendant has reasonable grounds to contest the charges?

There are some DUI defendants who might benefit from a law mandating IID installation. But others could have their legal rights violated. Should we be so quick to assume that this is a good idea in all cases?

Source: Forbes, "New Ignition Interlock Legislation Aims To Save Thousands From Drunk Driving Deaths," Tanya Mohn, July 7, 2014

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