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New Legislation to be Introduced

It seems we all know friends and families that have been victimized by drivers under the influence of alcohol. We all are worried about the ongoing toll that drunk drivers continue to take on our nation's roadways. Legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate by New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. The legislation known as the "Drunk Driver Repeat Offender Prevention Act of 2011" requires that every state pass legislation mandating universal interlock requirements by 2014 or lose a percentage of federal highway construction dollars.

Interlock devices are installed in automobiles and require the driver to prove, by blowing into a mouthpiece that they have no alcohol in their system before the vehicle is permitted to start. Pennsylvania has an interlock requirement for individuals convicted of a second driving under the influence offense.

If the legislation is passed, a three (3) year grace period would begin during which timethe various states could pass legislation. If they fail to do so within the grace period, an escalating penalty system would kick in. In the first year after the deadline, for example, a state would lose two (2) percent of the road construction funds. If they still did not act by the start of the second year after the deadline, the penalty would increase to four (4) percent. This escalation of funding loss would continue in following years up to a maximum of eight (8) percent. This may not sound like a lot, but, even for the smallest of states, this would be millions and millions of dollars. For the largest states, the laws could translate into several hundred million dollars worth or lost road construction funding.

This same legislation approach was used successfully to entice states to adopt a minimum drinking age of 21 and a national .08 blood alcohol content percentage standard for drunk driving. If it is successful again, the number of ignition interlocks in use would increase and hopefully it would prevent individuals from driving while intoxicated and make everyone breathe a little easier.

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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law