On May 16, legislators in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 193 to 2 to expand the ignition interlock device from repeat DUI offenders to include most first-time DUI offenders as well. The measure will now be returned to the state Senate for its vote. It is likely that it will pass since the Senate voted for a similar measure 47 to 0 last fall. The governor is expected to sign the new bill into law when he receives it.
The new law would allow first-time DUI offenders who had blood alcohol concentrations of between .10 and .15 to receive restricted licenses with ignition interlock installations instead of having their licenses suspended for one year. This would allow them to drive to school, work or the store as long as they were able to provide alcohol-free breath samples.
The bill would expand the use of ignition-interlock devices to around 30,000 Pennsylvanians every year. It would not be available for drivers of commercial vehicles or those who caused DUI fatalities. Proponents of the measure point out that giving the ignition interlock licenses would allow first-time offenders to continue leading productive lives after they are arrested for DUI. Critics point out that ignition-interlock devices simply stop behavior rather than positively changing it for the long term, according to research.
The mandatory installation and use of ignition interlock devices is just one of many serious consequences people who are convicted of drunk driving may face. People may also be sentenced to terms of incarceration, face substantial fines, be ordered to attend mandatory alcohol treatment and be placed on probation. A criminal defense attorney might choose to combat the charge by challenging the manner in which the test was conducted.