The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles this week lauded a new state law that allows DUI offenders to forgo a license suspension and waive DMV hearings in order to enter the ignition interlock program more quickly.
Because here’s the thing: Just because people aren’t supposed to drive during their DUI-related license suspensions, in so many instances, they do anyway.
And the DMV says that study after study prove that.
One such study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that when ignition-interlocks were installed, the rate at which DUI drivers were arrested a second time decreased by a median of 67 percent.
Not familiar with how ignition interlocks work? Here’s the deal: Ignition interlocks are devices installed in a vehicle that require that the driver submit a breath test. An alcohol sensor in the machine can detect whether the driver is too impaired to operate the motor vehicle, and will not start if he is. Drivers must give a sample by simply breathing into the device when they go to start their vehicles, and sometimes, even while they are driving.
But safety isn’t the only benefit: Allowing drivers convicted of DUI to drive with an interlock and forego a license suspension also saves the court’s valuable time, as well as money. And there’s the time of the arresting officer to consider, too. Every DMV hearing waived is another hearing a police officer doesn’t have to be taken off the beat in order to attend.
A drawback? From my perspective as a criminal defense lawyer who has handled hundreds of DUI cases throughout West Virginia and the greater Pittsburgh area, there is the cost to consider. In addition to costs, fines and fees, the cost associated with installing and maintaining the systems is significant.
However, to most, that cost is little compared with the freedom to drive themselves to and from work, the grocery store, their children’s schools and more.