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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: May 5, 2016
A man enjoying a beer while seated in a car - Leckerman Law, LLC

HARRISBURG – A new bill signed into law by Gov. Wolf Wednesday aims to require installation of the ignition interlock device for some first time drunk drivers caught in Pennsylvania.

According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), the passing of this bill leaves only two U.S. states without any form of ignition interlock for first-time offenders.

According to Wolf, drunk driving is a deadly crime that puts Pennsylvania families at risk. With the signing of this legislation, people will be prevented from driving drunk and endangering themselves and putting other lives at risk. “We owe it to both motorists and pedestrians to keep them safe and hold people who break DUI laws accountable,” said Wolf.

MADD advocated for the bill in an effort to help drunk drivers off the roads. The new law requires first-time offenders with a blood alcohol level of 0.10% or more at the time of arrest to use a mandatory ignition interlock device for at least a year. MADD and other supporters of IID (Ignition Interlock Devices) say that they help protect people on the roads by keeping offenders under check, allowing them to meet other requirements such as a job or doctor visits at the same time.

Before the passing of this bill, Pennsylvania only required ignition interlock devices for repeat drunk drivers. The new law will take effect in 15 months.

Based on a report from MADD, between October 2003 and December 2015, more than 78,000 attempts to drive drunk were stopped by the use of ignition interlock devices in Pennsylvania. An Ignition interlock device requires the driver to blow into a tube that measures the presence of alcohol in their breath. If an unacceptable blood alcohol level is detected, the vehicle will not start.

The new law will not affect many Pennsylvania drivers caught for the first time operating a vehicle under the influence. That’s because they go through a process called accelerated rehabilitative disposition, that can leave them without a conviction, said Stephen Erni, executive director of the PA DUI Association.

Erni estimated that the new law will lead to 13,000 additional Pennsylvania drivers with an ignition interlock device, up from about 6,000 now.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation released statistics showing that a total of 10,288 accidents were recorded statewide involving drunk drivers in 2015.

The legislation this year was approved easily after years of lobbying by advocates. It passed the House 193-2 and the Senate 50-0.


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