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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: February 14, 2014
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In an attempt to fulfill the requirements of individuals, authors of changes to Pennsylvania’s penalties for 1st time DUI offenders made no one happy.

Only repeat DUI offenders are required to install an ignition interlock in their vehicles which require individuals to give a breath sample after which the device allows the engine of the vehicle to start.

Proposed changes in the law will increase interlock requirement for almost every individual but not in the way the state legislative affairs manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Frank Harris, would like. He wants to see those individuals convicted of drunken driving with an interlock device installed than serve a suspension because according to him, the issue with suspensions is that individuals continue to drive without a driver’s license. He noted, “Ignition interlocks were proven to reduce repeat drunk-driving offenses by 67 percent”.

The legislation that was proposed first would have required drivers to install an interlock only but concerns were raised that this is easy for repeat offenders, so amendments made by the Senate Transportation Committee last week will require drivers to serve out half their suspension prior to having the option to get an interlock and get behind the wheel again.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67% decrease occurred and it also found that advantage disappeared once interlocks are removed from vehicles. Individuals again start driving under the influence.

A second measure in the Pennsylvania legislation was created to make the changed behavior as it is. It requires that drivers do not fail a breath test on their interlock for 2 months prior to having the device removed, even if they have completed the time designated in their sentence.

The legislation was proposed by State Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery).

Vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Association for Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys, Mike Sherman, said that due to the reason that the interlock device can give false result of positive BAC level, it could mean an inappropriate sentencing extension. According to him, most 1st time offenders are unlikely to repeat their mistake. He said, “When you put an ignition interlock device in that vehicle, when he has to have his boss in his car, when he has to have clients in his car, he’s not going to be able to do that. He may lose his job”.

The cost of renting the devices is almost $2 a day. Washington State created a fund to pay for the devices but that’s not part of the current plan in Pennsylvania.

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