New Georgia Interlock Ignition Law Brings Praise
The Georgia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is applauding a new state law in Georgia. Beginning July 1, a new law for first time DUI offenders requires that an interlock ignition device (IID) be installed on their vehicles.
According to the organization, by the time an offender is caught driving under the influence, they have already broken that law 80 times before. In 2016, Georgia was one of only four states that had no law for interlock ignition devices for first time DUI offenders. The group says that the technology is a lifesaver.
When a driver is arrested and refuses a blood alcohol concentration test, or takes a test and registers .15 or higher, they will have two options: hand over their driver’s license or have an IID installed. The Centers for Disease Control says that interlock ignition devices are more effective at stopping subsequent offenses than driver’s license suspensions.
Interlock ignition devices that are installed in vehicles must meet local, state and federal regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a hand in setting these regulations. Once a device is installed in a vehicle, the person who has been sentenced to or chosen to use the device blows into a mouthpiece each time they get behind the wheel. When a person fails the breath test, the vehicle’s ignition is locked for a set period of time. When the time has passed, the person can blow again. If the driver fails again, the period of lockout is longer.
The CDC says that in the instances of license suspensions, people continue to drive up to 75 percent of the time. That isn’t true of those who have chosen the interlock ignition control device. With the device, a person must blow into a mouthpiece before their vehicle will start. If they register a .08 or above, the engine will not turn over.
In some cases, the engine won’t start if the driver blows above a much lower preset blood alcohol level, commonly around 0.02. This limit is dictated in the sentence handed down by the judge.
In some states, judges require a rolling test. This means that a driver must blow into the device while they are driving. If they fail the test, the car’s lights flash and horn sounds until the driver pulls over and shuts the engine off. The driver cannot start the car again until they pass a breath test. This is to prevent having a friend blow into the IID to start the car for a drunk driver.
While members of MADD are pleased that the law has been passed, they still want to see more happen in the fight against drunk driving. As the law stands currently, installing an IID is optional. Group members would like to see the technology included as a mandatory part of sentencing. The area of focus for the group is Coastal Georgia. Close to 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in that area can be attributed to drunk driving.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in DeKalb County and want more information about your legal options — including ignition interlock devices — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.