The use of ignition interlock devices in vehicles in the United States has expanded significantly in recent years, despite questions about whether these devices are actually effective at reducing instances of drunk driving over the long term.
Thanks to tough new laws, a person who is charged with DUI in Alabama is likely to be one of the thousands in the United States required to have one of these devices on their vehicle. Avoiding conviction has become more important than ever if you don't want to end up suffering the long-term consequences of having a drunk-driving conviction on your record.
Ignition Interlock Device Use on the Rise
According to AL.com, the number of ignition interlock devices installed in vehicles in the United States tripled between 2006 and 2013.
Ignition interlock devices work by preventing someone from starting a vehicle until taking a blood-alcohol content test. The device is installed in the vehicle, paid for by a person convicted of drunk driving, and the driver has to blow into a breathalyzer before starting the car. If the driver's blood alcohol content is .02 or higher, the vehicle will not start.
In Alabama, the legislature passed a law requiring ignition interlock devices in 2011, with the program expected to be operational the following year. However, defects in the law prevented it from being implemented in most jurisdictions.
Now, however, drivers in Alabama who are convicted of even a first drunk driving offense will need to have the device installed provided they have a BAC of .15 or higher, or if they are in a vehicle with a passenger under age 14 while driving drunk. Drivers who are first-time offenders will also need to have an ignition interlock device installed if they cause injury to themselves or others in a collision. Finally, drivers who refuse a breath test or who are repeat DUI offenders also need to have a device installed.
For most motorists in Alabama, the device has to remain in the car for six months at a minimum, but this period of time can be extended for violations and for subsequent offenses.
The effectiveness of such laws, and of ignition interlock devices themselves, is touted by safety advocates as well as manufacturers of the devices. However, the reality is that the devices only cause a reduction in drunk driving arrests while installed. As soon as the interlock is removed from the vehicle, the re-arrest rate returns to the normal level.
This suggests that perhaps there may be better ways to stop drunk driving over the long term, like allowing defendants accused of drunk driving to plea bargain and face reduced sentences in exchange for going to drug or alcohol counseling, which might actually be effective in helping them to stop driving drunk.
Contact Barclay Law at 866-584-1023 or visit https://www.jmbarclaylaw.com to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham. Serving South Side, Titusville, Red Mountain, Woodlawn, Ensley and surrounding areas.