In September of 2003, the state of Pennsylvania signed Act 24, a bill that lowered the legal alcohol limit from .10 to .08. Act 24 also created a tiered approach to curbing driving under the influence (DUI) violations and was the first time Pennsylvania required ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders. Since that time Pennsylvania has seen a substantial drop in alcohol-related fatalities, and now they’re overhauling their DUI laws again.
This past week, the Pennsylvania Senate became the 32nd state requiring first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices. The bill was approved by a 50-0 vote, and is expected to clear through the House before the current session ends. Once official, anyone convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 will be required to have their vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.
Ignition interlocks have been a core part of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Campaign to End Drunk Driving, and the step Pennsylvania is taking has MADDs’s full approval. Ignition interlock devices have been found to be more effective than a driver’s license suspension, and MADD has published statistics stating that 50 to 75% of drunk drivers will continue to drive without a license anyway. With an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, if they’ve made the choice to drink, they won’t be able to start the engine.
Ignition interlocks reduce the likelihood that DUI offenders will offend again by up to 67%, and in the case of first offenders, having an interlock device is the best way to get back on the road and driving again after you’ve made a careless mistake. That means all the fall out from the loss of a driver’s license, including the potential to lose your job, won’t happen for DUI offenders in Pennsylvania.
If the Pennsylvania Senate passes the bill, the state will be taking a giant leap forward in improving road safety. You can find more information on ignition interlock devices in Pennsylvania by visiting Guardian Interlock’s Pennsylvania state page.