DUI LAW: Suspension vs. Ignition Interlock
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The Pennsylvania state legislature has been trying to pass a law that would require first time Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders to have an ignition interlock device placed on their car. Currently ignition interlock devices are not required until after a second conviction for DUI. Ignition Interlock devices require the driver to blow into a machine on their steering wheel and produce a negative reading for alcohol before the car can become operable. The general public likely would not have a problem with first time DUI offenders having to equip their vehicles with this device before it can become operable. Clearly this would prevent a lot of accidents and deaths, which is the purpose of the law. But what the legislature should also consider is swapping out one first time DUI punishment for another.
Currently, a person convicted of a first offense DUI in Pennsylvania with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .10 or higher will lose their license for one year. A loss of license would be detrimental to most people who live and work in Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County or any of the other suburban counties that surround Philadelphia where public transportation is limited. If the idea is to protect the public from people who drive drunk, ignition interlock would address that concern more than a license suspension could. Where a license suspension does not physically prevent a person from getting into their car and driving intoxicated, an ignition interlock device would do just that and allow the person to continue working and take care of their basic needs.
Under current Pennsylvania law, a first time DUI offender with a BAC or .10 or higher may be eligible for a occupation limited license (work license) after serving 2 months of their one year suspension. Obviously it is better to be able to drive to work for 10 months of your suspension rather than the full 12, but can most people who are working to support a family afford not to be able to drive to their place of employment for a full month? Again swapping out a license suspension for an ignition interlock requirement would both protect society and alleviate the stress on the first time DUI offender.