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Ignition Interlock Devices Expand Role in DUI Battle

In Pennsylvania, legislation has been forwarded that could make the use of an ignition interlock device mandatory for first time DUI offenders. Ignition interlock devices are small hand-held breath testing equipment that are installed on the steering column of a vehicle. Before the interlock device will allow the engine to be started, the driver must provide a sober breath sample, or the car simply won’t start. To avoid situations where a person who is drinking simply has a sober friend provide the breath sample, the ignition interlock devices also require periodic random breath samples once the vehicle is in motion. The device will sound an alarm if the random sample isn’t provided, which gives the driver of the vehicle more than enough time to get pulled off the road where they can breathe into the device.

The Pennsylvania legislation, Senate Bill 1184, will be presented for a vote to the full senate this Spring, but lawmakers and anti-drunk driving advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are confident that the measure will be passed into law. Currently, sixteen states have similar laws in place, with Connecticut being the latest state to turn to the interlock devices to help them reduce the number of DUIs and DUI-related accidents. Sixteen additional states have more lenient versions of this law, with those states only mandating the use of the devices for first time DUI and DWI offenders who register blood alcohol levels of 1.5 or above. Pennsylvania is one of 8 states that require the devices to be used only for second time offenders.

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