Hattiesburg, MS- Intoxicated driving is one leading causes of fatal traffic accidents so lawmakers are always thinking of ways they can take to save lives and that often means passing tougher DUI laws. Last year, Mississippi legislators passed a bill which strengthened the state’s DUI laws and those changes when into effect at the beginning of last month.

As of October 1st, motorists who are charged with their first or subsequent DUI must install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles if they are convicted or drunken driving. Now the state joins the ranks of the 20 other states with this requirement. That is on top of the mandatory 90 day license suspension for first time offenders and year suspension for second and third offenses.

Drivers who want to get their licenses back  must install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. These devices work similar to breathalyzers used by police officers to determine a driver’s level of alcohol intoxication, but they prevent a vehicle from starting if the motorist’s BAC is above the legal limit.

That means that after a motorist pays the $174 to have their license reinstated, the convicted driver must then have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. The costs of installation and monthly maintenance fees come out of the offenders pocket adding to the overall cost of a DUI which add up to the nearly $10,000. Installation alone can cost hundreds of dollars and monthly recalibration can cost $50 to $100 dollars a month.

Another drawback of ignition interlock devices are the inconveniences they impose on the convicted offender’s family. Anyone who uses the vehicle with one of these devices must be sober and must be blow into the device before they drive. That’s a good thing, but for an innocent person it’s 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 field breathalyzers, 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.

Mother against Drunk Drivers has long recommended that all states make ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drivers convicted of a DUI charge. The advocacy group says that in states where these devices are mandatory for all individuals convicted of a DUI, alcohol-related fatalities have fallen.

A great deal is at stake if a person is convicted of a DUI, and while Mississippi has more lenient laws than many other states, anyone facing these charges needs sound legal advice and a solid defense. There is no chance to plea to a lesser charge in the state so your need to be proactive and get legal help. If you are facing a DUI charge, you should contact a Hattiesburg DUI attorney immediately so they can begin evaluating your case.

Your Mississippi DUI attorney will look at the evidence and determine the best way to approach your case to give the best chance of averting conviction or at the least minimizing the impact of a DUI conviction.