Newark, NJ- Earlier this month, a New York legislator introduced a new law that would make it mandatory for any person convicted of DUI whether it is their first offense or subsequent offenses.
For those not in the know, an ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is connected to the ignition of drunk driving offenders vehicle and measures the amount of alcohol they have on their breath. If they are above the legal driving limit their car won’t start.
Many states require ignition interlocks for drivers who are convicted of two or more DUIs. Some states require these devices for all DUI offenders regardless of their blood alcohol level, effectively creating a patchwork of laws that some feel doesn’t adequately address the country’s drunken driving problem Representative Nita Lowey (NY-D) hopes to change that by introducing legislation to make ignition interlock devices mandatory for anyone convicted of DUI. The bill will be taken up by the House of Representatives once they reconvene this month, Forbes reported.
If passed, the bill, named “Alisa’s Law” after the daughter of MADD’s National President Jan Withers who was killed by a drunken driver in 1992, would deprive states of federal funding if they don’t comply by October 1st, 2014.
MADD, and other driver safety advocates believe these devices would prevent thousands of drunk driving accidents and deaths each. Citing data from the Centers for Disease control, MADD says mandatory use of ignition interlock reduces the DUI recidivism rate by 67 percent.
Along with federal push to make these devices, lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced a bill, making these devices mandatory for first offenders. Currently, in New Jersey first time DUI offenders are only required to utilize ignition interlocks if their blood alcohol level is .15 or above or they have two or more DUI convictions.
DUI lawyers however are critical of these devices mainly because the cost and DUI offenders, the inconveniences they pose to an offender’s family and their inaccuracy.
Installing an ignition interlock must come out of the offenders pocket the cost of which ranges in the $50to $150 range. There is also a monthly maintenance fee to recalibrate the devices so they give accurate readings. That fee averages between $60 and $80 per month. Those costs are on top of the other fines a penalties DUI offenders face. The state of New Jersey offers cost reduction to indigent offenders, but the cost can still be too much for them to bear.
Another drawback of these devices are the inconveniences they impose on the convicted offender’s family. Anyone who uses the vehicle with one of these devices must blow into it before and must be sober—that’s a good thing—but it’s almost like punishing someone for a crime they haven’t committed.
These breathalyzers can also give inaccurate readings, preventing a car from starting even if the offender hasn’t been drinking. As with the field breathalyzers used by police, these tests can detect alcohol from cough medicine, mouth rinses and even mints. Those who suffer from diabetes can have positive results even though they haven’t been drinking.
There is a great deal at stake when a person is facing DUI charges so it is their best interest to enlist the services of a New Jersey DUI attorney to work on their defense and give them the opportunity to avert a DUI conviction.