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Drunk driving law mandates interlock device for first offenders

A new tool in the battle against alcohol-impaired driving has been made effective in Pennsylvania. The law became operative as of Aug. 25, 2017. It applies to first-time offenders convicted of drunk driving who are found with a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher. These individuals can derive a benefit from the new law.

It requires qualified first-offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. The interlock device works like a Breathalyzer. The driver breathes into the device, which then registers the amount of alcohol, if any, in his or her system. If it is over a certain amount, the device prevents the ignition from starting the vehicle.

Under the DUI laws in effect for many years in Pennsylvania, the convicted first-offending drunk driver had to wait for passage of the one-year and 30-day suspension period prior to driving again. The only relief for the hardship created by that provision was to apply for a restricted driver's license allowing limited driving to and from work. That policy has never worked well in the state because its provisions are so restrictive that many drivers do not qualify to receive such a license. 

The new Pennsylvania drunk driving provision should motivate some drivers against refusing to take a Breathalyzer test when stopped by the police. The suspension of the license will be total and swift if the test is refused. The new law, however, will provide for the first offender who refuses the test to begin driving again after serving six months of the suspension. This will be accomplished by installing the interlock device in the person's car. However, the first offender who is stopped may well choose to take the Breathalyzer, knowing that there will be an opportunity to drive immediately with the interlock device installed. 

Source: sanatogapost.com, "New PA Drunk-Driving Law Took Effect Friday", Joe Zlomek, Aug. 27, 2017

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