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New law requires increased use of ignition interlock device

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently signed a law that will increase the use of ignition interlock devices in sentencing drivers who are convicted of drunk driving. The bill was supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who said that most first-time DUI offenders have driven drunk an average of 80 times before they are convicted. The legislators who sponsored the legislation say that it will reduce the number of DUIs by 30 percent.

Under current state law, an ignition interlock device is required for any person convicted of a second DUI offense. The device must be used for one year before the driver can request its removal. Under the bill just signed by Gov. Wolf, use of an ignition interlock device will be required for anyone who has been convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol content in excess of 0.10%. The new law takes effect in August 2017.

An ignition interlock device is intended to detect whether the driver is intoxicated by using a small breathalyzer to sample the driver's breath. The driver must breathe into the device before the car can be started. If the device detects alcohol in the breath sample, the ignition switch will be disabled. Even if the driver is able to start the vehicle, the interlock device will prompt the driver to breathe into it in order to continue operating the vehicle. Pennsylvania law also prescribes penalties for attempting to disable or for tampering with an ignition interlock device.

A conviction for DUI will become an even more serious criminal charge after the new law takes effect. Anyone facing DUI charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of the case, an explanation of the applicable laws and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: Land Line, "Pennsylvania expands use of ignition interlocks," Keith Goble, Aug. 22, 2016

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