Breathalyzer Law For First Time Offenders Unlikely

Lawmakers say they are not likely to push legislation requiring first-time DUI offenders to use an ignition interlock device.

interlock

Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation (flickr)

Someone models how an ignition interlock device works to keep people who are drunk from driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending laws requiring drunk drivers to have a device installed on their car after their first offense, but lawmakers say such requirements may not pass in Indiana this legislative session.

The device in question is called an ignition interlock device. It uses a breathalyzer to check a driver’s blood alcohol level and will automatically stop the car if the reading exceeds the legal limit.

State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says he believes at some point Indiana will require the device, but it likely will not be in 2013.

“We lost one of our own years ago. A drunk driver hit him on the way home one night. All legislators feel very very serious about it.” Merritt says.

Monroe County Sheriff Jim Kennedy says putting breathalyzers in cars may help curb drunk driving.

“If a person is convicted of drunk driving in this community, typically they are fined and may or may not receive some formal punishments in terms of days in jail, but it’s usually a significant financial strain on them,” Kennedy says.

Bloomington Police officials say over the past three years, 637 people have been cited for driving under the influence. Currently, 17 states require ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of those with several DUI’s on their record.

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