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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: February 4, 2014
A person holding a key to a black car - Leckerman Law, LLC

This week, a hearing on legislation that will expand the installation of ignition interlocks in drunken driving cases will be held in Harrisburg. The legislation was proposed by a Chester County’s state senator.

The state Senate Transportation Committee will hold the hearing on Rafferty’s legislation, SB 1036, which will make the installation of ignition interlock mandatory in the vehicles of individuals convicted of DUI.

Sen. John Rafferty who is the head of the state Senate Transportation Committee is forcing the residents to contact their representatives in Harrisburg for supporting the legislation.

Last week, MADD President Jan Withers said, “Currently, Pennsylvania law requires ignition interlocks only for repeat offenders. SB 1036 will strengthen the law to require ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers with an illegal blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater for at least six months”. 20 states have interlock laws like that in place, said Withers.

The repeat DUI offenses are decreased by 67 percent with the help of ignition interlocks said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Withers  also  said, “States that are enforcing all-offender ignition interlock laws, such as Arizona and Oregon have seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 43 to 42 percent, largely due to these comprehensive laws requiring all drunk drivers to receive an interlock”.

The law will be amended and it will change the current provision that requires the installation of interlocks in only those individual’s vehicles with drunk driving conviction and license suspension for 1 year or more than that. If the legislation sponsored by Rafferty is passed, the 1st time DUI offenders face mandatory use of the interlock devices.

Last fall, Rafferty said, “This will prevent people who are pulled over and convicted of DUI from getting onto the highway again and be able to harm someone. I am hopeful this will awaken first offenders that they may have a problem”.

An ignition interlock is a device which requires a breath sample for testing the BAC level of a driver before it allows the engine of the vehicle to start. If the BAC level is determined more than the legal limit of driving than the engine will not start. Breath samples are also required after regular intervals of time while the vehicle is in motion to prevent a sober friend from starting the vehicle by providing the breath sample. If the individual will not provide a sample or a sample BAC limit is over certain blood alcohol content limit than it will result in the sounding of alarms.

On Friday, District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement, “Drunk driving offenders, and particularly recidivist offenders, are somebody’s death waiting to happen. Tools like the ignition interlock will help us save lives. Drunk drivers will try to think up ways to get around the interlock device, but the game of adapting to stay one step ahead of criminals is the story of law enforcement”.

On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee hearing will be held.

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