Ignition interlocks and first-time DUI offenders

On April 11, Maryland became the 26th state to require that all DUI offenders, including first-timers, install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. Illinois already has an all-inclusive ignition interlock law in place, and similar legislation is pending in California, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

In these states, ignition interlocks are installed in the vehicles of offenders who have been convicted for the first time of driving with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or above. The devices require drivers to use a built-in breathalyzer to prove they are sober before allowing a car to start. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlocks have prevented drunk drivers from hitting the road 1.77 million times across the U.S. Further, states with all-offender ignition interlock laws see a decline in drunk driving deaths of up to 50 percent.

Maryland's new law has been named after a police officer killed by a drunk driver in December 2015. Before the law's passage, only first-time offenders with a BAC level at or above .15 were ordered to install ignition interlocks. Now, all offenders convicted of driving with BAC levels above .08 will be mandated to use the devices for at least six months.

Illinois motorists who have been issued DUI charges can face harsh consequences, including jail time, fines and the loss or restriction of their driving privileges. There could be some strategies, however, that an attorney could utilize to combat the charges. One would be whether the police had probable cause to make the traffic stop that led to the arrest. Another could be a challenge to the administration of the breath test or the calibration of the machine.

Source: Cars, "26 States Now Mandate Ignition Interlocks for First-Time DUI Offenders," Matt Schmitz, April 13, 2016

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