A new law that requires some first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices went into effect in Pennsylvania on Friday.
Act 33 of 2016 requires first-time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent or higher to use ignition interlocks for at least 12 months.
The ignition interlock requires drivers to blow into a device that measures their blood alcohol content.
If their BAC is over a certain level, the car will not start.
“Ignition interlocks are smart on crime and proven to stop drunk-driving attempts,” stated State Sen. John Rafferty Jr., who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.
“With this new law, ignition interlocks will be available to more individuals and allow them to be productive members of society in a strictly-controlled environment while serving their drunk-driving sentence.”
Previously, ignition interlocks were only required for second and subsequent DUI offenses, but the new law allows first-time offenders to drive immediately with the interlocks installed, rather than wait until after serving a driver’s license suspension between 30 days and 1 year, based upon the offender’s blood-alcohol percentage.
Carroll Township Police Chief Paul Brand said he has seen a lot of repeat DUI offenders in his role in the police department in Washington County and believes the new law will be beneficial.
“If the state can control them driving under the influence, but yet they (the offenders) still have an opportunity to maintain employment while giving them a chance to correct their drinking and driving past, then I feel it’s a good alternative,” Brand said.
In Fayette County, Masontown Police Chief Joe Ryan said they have also seen their share of repeat DUI offenders, but the law is still too new to see the results and he hasn’t had much experience with ignition interlocks to comment on their effectiveness with DUI offenders.
“We’re really not going to know until we see a few cases get through,” Ryan said. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
Lt. Tom Kolencik with the Uniontown Police Department said as a representative of the department, he cannot give his opinion on the law or predict how it will work, but said the department will stand behind the state with the law.
Kolencik said police officers see a lot of traffic accidents, injuries and deaths that are DUI…