Starting Sept. 1, those arrested for DUI – first offense or otherwise – must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle upon conviction.
Birmingham DUI lawyers realize by now that most people are probably aware of what these devices are – considering Alabama is the last one to require them for convicted drunk drivers.
The basic idea is this:
As part of the punishment for DUI offenders, they must pay to have an electronic breathalyzer installed in the dash of their vehicle. In order for the vehicle to start, the driver must blow into the device. If their alcohol level is 0.02 percent or higher, the vehicle will not start.
Note: The blood alcohol limits with this device are far below the standard of 0.08 percent used by all law enforcement in the state.
Some of the other requirements of the device, per the Code of Alabama (1975) §32-5A-191:
—A person with an interlock ignition device has to have it serviced every 30 days to ensure it's in proper working order. During these inspections, technicians will inspect the vehicle for any improper wiring of the device.
—The interlock ignition device will enter what is known as a “hard lockout” if it is not serviced within two months of the last service visit. This will require the driver to have the vehicle towed to a service center in order for the inspection to be completed.
—Every time you blow into the device, it will record your blood alcohol level. That data will be stored, and can be later retrieved. This means that if you blow over the legal limit, you may not be able to start the vehicle, but the prosecutor and judge will have access to that information anyway.
—You can be reported to the court if you blow over a 0.20 four or more times in a month, or if you tamper with the device or if you fail to get it serviced every month.
The two approved devices for this purpose are the Interlock XT and the Smart Start. They generally run about $100 for the initial installation, and then there is a $75 charge every month for the maintenance.
Many states have provisions that exempt first-time offenders from having to install and use the device. However, in Alabama, first-time offenders will have to buy the ignition interlock system, provided one of the following criteria is present:
1. You had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher.
2. You refused to submit to blood alcohol testing.
3. There is a child under the age of 14 with you in the vehicle.
4. Someone was injured as a result of your DUI.
It will be automatic if you are a second-time offender. Third-time offenders will have to keep the device installed for a minimum of three years. For every offense you have after that, it's an additional five years.
Obviously, drunk driving was a serious offense in Alabama before. What this new measure does is up the ante.
The problem with mandating ignition interlocks for certain types of offenses is that such measures strip judges of the ability to do their job – which is to make decisions in cases where the case may not be black-and-white.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.