DUI enforcement in Pennsylvania entered unchartered territory this summer with the arrival of what’s known as the “ignition interlock law.”
The law, which went into effect in August, affects both license suspensions and the way ignition interlock devices are used in DUI cases.
Supporters say it’s more effective than suspending someone’s driver’s license.
“Not only is it going to make our highways safer, but the individual will be able to get that ignition interlock right away, Eileen Lee, director of Ignition Interlock Quality Assurance at the Pennsylvania DUI Association, told ABC affiliate WHTM in August. “They’re going to be able to go to work. It will also allow them to change that behavior of drinking and driving, so lives will be saved.”
If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, we’d advise you to consult a DUI lawyer in Bucks County.
In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the ignition interlock law, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
What is an ignition interlock?
This is a device installed in a vehicle to keep the driver from operating while under the influence of alcohol. The driver needs to blow into the device before starting their vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, the vehicle won’t start.
In addition, the driver will need to blow into the device at various times while driving to make sure they aren’t under the influence. The cost of the device will be paid for by the offender.
Offenders are required to drive with an ignition interlock for one year from the date their driving privilege is restored.
If someone who has been ordered to use an ignition interlock is found operating a vehicle without the system in place, the ignition interlock period is extended for one year, at least for the first offense.
What is the Ignition Interlock Law?
This state law makes the ignition interlock requirement mandatory for both first-time DUI offenders and repeat offenders with high blood alcohol levels. It also affects people who have their driving privileges suspended for refusing to take a chemical test.
“An individual with an Ignition Interlock requirement who seeks a restoration of operating privileges, is required, as a condition of issuing a restricted license, to either have any motor vehicle to be operated equipped with an Ignition Interlock system and remain so for the duration of the restricted license period or, if there are no motor vehicles owned, registered, or to be operated, so certify in accordance with PennDOT’s regulations,” PennDOT says.
Someone who has had their driving privilege suspended after being accepted into the first-time offenders’ program known as ARD will not need an ignition interlock.
People convicted of homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while DUI are not eligible for the ignition interlocks.
Also barred from the program are people whose license has been revoked cancelled, people not licensed to drive in Pennsylvania. In addition, a person who has a commercial drivers license cannot use an ignition interlock to drive a commercial vehicle.
What is considered a prior DUI offense?
Under the law, a prior offense is one that happened within 10 years of the date for which the defendant is being sentenced, or on or after the date of the offense. If someone is sentenced for two or more offenses in the same day, the offenses shall be considered prior offenses.
Acceptance into the ARD program, consent decrees and adjudications of delinquency in juvenile court all count as prior offenses.
How much does an ignition interlock device cost?
It depends on the vendor, but the average cost of leasing a system and having it installed is between $900 and $1,300 per year.
What happens if someone who’s been ordered to use an ignition interlock drives a car without one?
As we said above, the first offense for this will result in a one-year extension of the ignition interlock period. Subsequent offenses will lead to a 12-month suspension of driving privileges, after which you’ll still have to use the ignition interlock.
Do you need a DUI lawyer in Bucks County? The team at Penglase & Benson is well-versed in handling these cases, and can use our expertise to bring your case to the best possible conclusion.
From interviewing witnesses to examining evidence to investigating whether police followed proper procedure, we can protect your rights and ensure you have the best possible representation.
Contact us today to get a free consultation with a DUI lawyer in Bucks County, and let us get started on building your defense.