A bill that would require those convicted of first-time DUI to utilize an ignition-locking system has not been passed. In 2005, a bill was passed that requires repeat drunk driving offenders in Massachusetts to have an ignition-locking device installed in their vehicles. The device is connected to the ignition system of the vehicle, and the driver must blow into it before the ignition will work. This is intended to ensure that the driver is not driving drunk.

When using the ignition-locking device, the driver must also periodically blow into it at certain intervals after beginning to drive to make certain that the status of the driver has not changed. The device works similarly to a Breathalyzer test that is typically used when a driver is suspected of DUI. The vehicle will automatically shut off or be unable to start when the ignition interlock system is positive.

In Massachusetts, more than 500 drivers have been ordered to use the ignition-locking device. The device costs about $91 monthly, which must be paid by the driver. The device is intended to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents by repeat offenders. The latest bill was going to require the device be used by those who were found guilty of their first DUI.

A spokesman for Massachusetts Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) indicated that time ran out on the bill, but it is expected to be reintroduced during the next session. Those in favor of the bill feel that it would prevent first-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders. If it passes the next time it is introduced, it could have a permanent effect on how drunk driving is penalized in the state when a conviction is obtained. Of course, an allegation of drunk driving is not the same thing as a conviction for it, and every individual accused in our state enjoys important legal protections and is given the right to challenge the testimony and evidence offered in support of the accusations.

Source: Sentinel & Enterprise, “Bill to curb repeat drunk drivers stalls on Beacon Hill,” Colleen Quinn, July 19, 2012