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Ignition Interlock Devices: Florida’s Solution to DUIs

Many changes have been made federally and on a state-by-state basis, strengthening drunk driving legislation. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has been petitioning Congress by publishing such statistics about drunk driving in our country, including those showing that each year, 10,000 people are killed as a result of a drunk driver, with a price tag to society of $132 billion each year. These statistics, including that, on average, drunk drivers drive drunk at least 87 times before they are caught, have bolstered support for drunk driving legislation.

Florida is no stranger to these toughened laws. Recently, Florida passed a DUI/DUBAL law which impacted drunk drivers by automatically suspending their licenses if the driver refused to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. MADD wants more.

What are Ignition Interlock Devices?

Ignition interlock devices are the newest gadget and technology to avoid drunk drivers from operating their motor vehicles after their first offense. An ignition interlock device is a breath-testing apparatus installed in a person’s car, which must be blown into before the car can start. If a person is drunk, the ignition interlock device will shut down the car until the driver no longer has a blood alcohol content (BAC) high enough to trigger the device.

Ignition Interlock Device Legislation Nationwide

New legislation is in the process of making its way through Congress, which would federally mandate all states to require drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock device for at least six months, with the court having discretion as to the installation and time period.

Florida’s DUI/IID Laws

Currently Florida has an interlock ignition device program in place. The program targets drunk drivers who are repeat offenders, or who are first-time offenders but whose BAC at the time of their arrest was 0.15 or who had a child in the car at the time of arrest. Presently, more than 10,000 devices have been installed in Florida.

Controversy Regarding Florida’s IID Program

There has been significant controversy regarding Florida’s program due to the bidding wars of vendors who make the devices. Vendors of the devices, since the induction of the program, have made almost $100 million from sales of these ignition interlock devices. These devices generally cost offenders at least $90 per month. In a recent case, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles was found to never have the authority to contract with the vendors in the first place; this decision has had repercussions on contracting with more vendors until this ruling has been appealed.

Also, vendors of these devices have been lobbying for a strengthening of ignition interlock device programs and measures stressing that these devices are the only way for Florida to limit drunk driving. Many question the motives of the vendors’ lobbying efforts because with more restrictive measures, such as requiring all first-time DUI offenders to install the devices regardless of other circumstances, the increased use of these devices will be required; in other words, more money in the vendors’ pockets. Finally, many debate the efficacy of these devices, as issues have arisen regarding the accuracy of the devices along with their ability to curtail driving under the influence of drugs.

Future of DUI Legislation

Ultimately, the ignition interlock device is just one of the many attempts to curtail the epidemic of drunk driving. With legislation currently taking a tougher stance on first-time offenders, it will most certainly affect the lives of Floridians, along with the rest of the country.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Drunk driving is being punished with more stringent and harsher laws. The Ignition Interlock Device is just the next step with a significant amount of support for stricter sentences for offenders. With so much at stake, it is important to consult with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who will be able to advise you of your rights and the legal process. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

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