In Pennsylvania, the punishment associated with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can be quite harsh. Indeed, DUI penalties may include fines, jail time as well as license suspensions – not to mention the severity of these penalties typically increase for those with multiple DUIs.
However, in the case of first-time offenders, some lawmakers in Pennsylvania are now seeking to add ignition interlocks to the list of restrictions and/or penalties that may be imposed on those convicted of DUI.
Possible changes ahead for Pennsylvania’s ignition interlock laws?
An ignition interlock device – also known as an IID – is a piece of equipment that is installed in a vehicle to prevent an individual from driving if he or she is intoxicated. Essentially, a driver must blow into an IID when getting into his or her vehicle, and if the device detects the illegal presence of alcohol in the driver’s breath sample, the vehicle will not start. Additionally, even after a vehicle is operational, a driver may still have to periodically provide additional samples in order to ensure he or she is not under the influence.
Importantly, current Pennsylvania law already requires the installation of ignition interlocks following DUI offenses, but only in certain situations. For instance, Pennsylvania drivers with two or more DUIs must install IIDs on each vehicle they own, lease or operate if they want to obtain a restricted license. In fact, they must keep the IIDs on their vehicles for at least one year before they become eligible for an unrestricted license.
However, one particular bill currently being considered by the Pennsylvania legislature – Senate Bill 1036 – may drastically change the state’s ignition interlock laws. Most notably, this legislation, if passed, would require IID installation for many first-time DUI offenders.
Specifically, under the language of SB 1036, drivers who have had their driving privileges suspended due to a single DUI offense would have to install an IID on their vehicles before they could even seek an “ignition interlock limited license.” In addition, this proposed law would apply to those whose licenses have been suspended for refusing chemical testing during a DUI arrest, even if they were never actually convicted of DUI.
Legal assistance is often necessary
While it is too early to know for sure if this legislation will become law, it certainly illustrates just how serious Pennsylvania lawmakers are when it comes to DUI penalties. Likewise, those facing DUI charges need to take these penalties equally serious.
Accordingly, if you have been arrested for DUI, it is best to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI defense attorney. A dedicated attorney will fight vigorously on your behalf to help ensure your rights are protected and that you get the defense you deserve.