Bremer County, IA- Should Iowans with a DUI conviction be required to have ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles? Well, some lawmakers believe so. Convicted DUI offenders in Iowa could soon face tougher penalties if the new law introduced to the state legislature passes.
Even though Iowa has some of the strictest DUI penalties, it could become among the many states that will force convicted drunk drivers to have ignition interlock devices installed in their car after their first offense. The current law only requires these devices for people convicted of their second offense or first offenders with a blood alcohol level of .10 or higher, KWCQ reported.
In addition to requiring ignition interlock devices, the legislation would also increase a third DUI offense from a Class D to a Class C felony which would increase the resulting penalties and fines.
The new Iowa legislation follows recommendations from the National Traffic Safety Board. At a hearing last December, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said that the 17 states that have made ignition interlocks mandatory for first time offenders and believes that if every state had similar legislation, DUI- related traffic fatalities would be dramatically reduced.
Fifty percent of all people convicted of first time DUI offense are likely to repeat their offense. Even though there are less drunk drivers on the roads, reaching their lowest level since 1949, close to one-third of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunken drivers so citizens and lawmakers alike believe something must be done.
“Technology is the game-changer in reducing alcohol-related crashes on our nation’s roadways,” Hersman said, adding, “Achieving zero alcohol-impaired driving-related deaths is possible only if society is willing to separate the impaired driver from the driving task.”
Ignition interlock devices require the driver to blow into the device before they can start their car. If they have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit their car won’t start. In addition when they attempt to start their car when intoxicated they have to return to the shop and have it recalibrated and the event is reported to authorities.
Jared Gavert, who runs an auto shop and installs ignition interlocks, says that these devices are an effective deterrent. He told KWCQ that people who have these devices soon learn what a hassle it is to take their car to the shop and have them recalibrated every month.
“When people come in every month and they have to have it in for six months to a year, they’re like, ‘I’m never going to do this again,’” Gavert said.
That’s what lawmakers in Iowa want to hear from DUI offenders, and the new legislation may be the best way to reduce drunk driving in the state, but it won’t stop all drivers from getting behind the wheel if they are intoxicated.
Because lawmakers are trying to make penalties tougher, those charged with DUI will need a skilled Iowa DUI attorney even more. Backed with their expertise offenders can avoid being convicted or see their penalties reduced.