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Feds seek to impose new ignition interlock standards on states

Earlier this year, South Carolina lawmakers took steps to tighten the state's drunk driving laws, which were strict to begin with. As a result of this most recent round of changes, some first-time drunk driving offenders would be required to have an ignition interlock device installed. Up to that point, only repeat driving under the influence offenders faced this mandate.

Now, U.S. Congress is jockeying to leverage all 50 states into clamping down even harder on first-time offenders. The ultimate goal with this legislation is to have a nationwide policy requiring first-time DUI offenders to have an interlock device installed, no matter what. Although this has yet to become federal law, it could seriously reshape law enforcement.

If the bill passes, states would lose federal transportation funding if they don’t change interlock policies by Oct. 2014. In other words, states would essentially be coerced into enforcing a new law within a couple months. Otherwise, states could lose funding that is critical to infrastructure maintenance and construction, which is something every motorist relies on.

This is the same tactic used by federal officials to push legal limit laws down to 0.08 percent several years ago.

Interestingly enough, the federal bill has met some headwind. One observer points out that first-time offenders aren't as likely to reoffend as some may think. Simply being charged with DUI one time is enough for many people to exercise extreme caution in the future.

It's also worth noting that individuals facing charges usually bear the cost of having interlock devices installed and maintained. This is in addition to all of the other expenses associated with drunk driving charges.

Source: WSTP, "Stricter ignition interlock legislation proposed," Andre Senior, July 8, 2014

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