New State Legislation for Stiffer DUI Penalties

More and more states are adopting stiffer penalties for those convicted for driving while intoxicated. It’s no secret that MADD; Mothers against Drunk Driving, has for years been trying to pass more legislation governing the penalties given for drunk driving. Due to the fact, that fighting this legislation would potentially be political suicide for these elected officials; most of the time, these laws pass in state legislation; as a result, more and more people are being arrested and facing harsher penalties for their careless actions.

Many people do not realize that DUI laws are two-fold; there are both criminal and civil penalties that are instituted. Criminal penalties and civil penalties increase with recurring patterns. Therefore, you will face stiffer penalties for more DUI arrests on your record. However, more and more states are implementing stiffer penalties for those arrested for first time offenses. Statistics show that at least 92% of drivers involved in fatal crashes with more than a .08 BAC or blood alcohol concentration in their systems had never been convicted of a DUI in the United States, this frightening statistic comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One of the harshest new laws for those first offenders have been passed in such states as Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska. The new legislation passed in these states require mandatory ignition lock systems be installed on all first time offenders for a mandatory amount of time. Besides losing your license, paying fines of up to $2000, and jail time; offenders are now required to pay for and install these ignition control devices on their vehicles. These devices require drivers to blow into the device prior to operating the vehicle; if the driver blows a set BAC limit; he or she will not be able to start the vehicle. As well, these ignition control devices are also used while the vehicle is in drive mode; known as the “rolling or running retest”.

In 1999, an institute study was conducted on a randomly assigned number of offenders eligible for license reinstatement. According to the Institute of Health, participation in the interlock program reduced the risk of committing an alcohol related violation within the first year following the conviction by nearly 65 percent. Many other studies have been done regarding recidivism rates when an interlock system or device is installed; all studies show promising results- lowering the recidivism rates.

Today, there are at least 37 states that have some type of interlocking program established; generally, it is in place for those previously convicted of drunk driving, or for those with poor driving patterns that show recidivism. However, recently Alaska has adopted the tougher legislation governing 1st time offenders and mandatory interlocking systems; this will go into effect January 1, 2009. In time, more and more legislation will be introduced to effectively remove drunk drivers from our highways; a tragedy that injures one person every 30 seconds and kills at least 30,000 each year in the United States.