Ignition interlock penalties in Alabama, which officially became law on Sept. 1, 2012, are on hold for the moment.
Birmingham DUI lawyers know that while the law is technically in effect, there have been a wide range of practical concerns regarding how it will be enforced, as well as cost issues and availability.
Alabama recently became the last state to enact ignition interlock requirement laws for those convicted of drunk driving. The laws vary from state to state, with some mandating that offenders have the devices installed in their vehicles after the first conviction.
In Alabama, the law only applies to those individuals who are arrested with a blood alcohol content that is higher than 0.15 percent.
In case you may not be aware of the function of these devices, they essentially work like a personal breathalyzer. If you're convicted of driving with a high BAC, you would have to pay to have the machine installed in your vehicle. It costs about $600. Then, for a duration of time established by the court, you would have to use that device every time you wanted to start your vehicle. If you blew over a 0.02 percent, your vehicle's engine would fail to start. Additionally, the device would maintain the data of each time you blew. So if you tried multiple times to start your vehicle while you were intoxicated, that information could potentially be used against you at upcoming court hearings.
First and second-time offenders would have to keep the device in their car for 24 months. Third-time offenders would have to keep it for three years, and any subsequent conviction would merit a five-year installation.
Plus, your driver's license will be restricted to reflect that you may only operate a vehicle that is equipped with interlock ignition during that time.
In theory, most people support this measure. But practically speaking, judges say there are some major problems with the law.
First of all, the device is only available in a select few parts of the state, primarily larger cities. That's because at this time, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, which approves manufacturers and providers of the device within the state, have only approved two companies.
What's more, the cost of the devices, set at $600, is far more than what many people can afford to pay. As it stands right now, the majority of people arrested for DUI struggle to pay their court costs, let alone the fees for ignition interlock. Is it fair to punish someone more harshly simply because they don't make as much money?
And finally, there is the matter of enforcement. Some say there is a disconnect between the legal 0.08 BAC threshold to qualify for a DUI and the 0.15 BAC threshold required for implementation of the interlock device.
Some are calling for the law to be revisited.
In the meantime, a number of judges have said they will hold off on enforcement until they get further assurances that all the kinks have been worked out.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Details for DUI law to be decided, Sept. 23, 2012, By Bob Johnson, The Associated Press
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