Legislators, law enforcement, and advocacy groups are always looking for new and innovative ways to curb drunk driving. Raising awareness, increasing fines and penalties, and investing in law enforcement are the primary methods of reducing drunk drivers on the road. Alabama’s new interlock ignition law will go into effect this month, requiring many convicted drunk drivers install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Ignition-interlock devices will prevent any vehicle from starting if the driver blows above .02. While many ignition devices are court mandated, other drivers have opted for the device in lieu of a driver’s license suspension.
The law was passed in 2011 and is now being fully implemented statewide. Individuals who have been recently charged or arrested for DUI should be aware of legislative changes as well as the potential penalties they may face. Our Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys are dedicated to providing strategic and informed defense on behalf of our clients. We will take a comprehensive approach to understand the facts of your case, challenge the allegations made against you and work towards the best possible resolution.
The law requires any repeat offender who has had an offense in the previous five years have an interlock ignition device installed in their car. It also requires individuals who were convicted under certain circumstances to have the device installed, even on the first offense: those whose BAC was above .15, individuals who refused a breath test, those driving with a passenger under the age of 14, and drivers who were involved in accidents that resulted in injury or death.
In most cases, drivers will have the interlock device installed for six months, but in some cases, that period will be extended.
Implementing the law has been more complicated than first anticipated. The process and procedures for requiring ignition devices can create financial hurdles, as well as lasting burdens for defendants. Repeat offenders who are required to drive with an ignition-interlock device pay for the device after a period of license suspension. While the original law required fines as part of the program, the law did not integrate a method for collection. Due to the inability to collect fines, most jurisdictions failed to implement the program. Officials are still not convinced the program works, given the complications and expenses.
Since the law passed, the Alabama Department of Public Safety has issued a total of 81 interlock devices. To use a device, the driver must blow into a tube. If the device detects alcohol, the car will not start for 15 minutes and until another breath sample is taken. Some authorities are hoping that the program will curb drunk driving by acting as a deterrent, not only for offenders, but for their passengers as well. The device also requires drivers periodically pull over and blow again.
The CDC has not concluded whether the devices reduce accidents or drunk driving. However, MADD has provided evidence that the laws have made an impact. The organization claims that between June 2006 and 2013, as the number of interlock devices spiked nationwide, the number of drunk driving deaths has been reduced by 27%.