Big Changes Could Come To Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws

Wisconsin drunk driving laws The holiday season is about to kick off and with it comes big news in the world of Wisconsin drunk driving. There are four new bills on the table in front of the Wisconsin Senate, and if they pass there’s going to be big changes coming for drunk driving laws.

Here’s a look at what the bills propose and what will change for Wisconsin drunk driving laws if they pass.

First drunk driving offense will be a crime

Wisconsin is the only state that doesn’t criminalize a first operating while impaired (OWI) offense, and that’s long been a bone of contention for anti-drunk driving advocates in the state. If a new bill passes a first time OWI will be finally be criminalized, and that means first offenders are treated more seriously than if they were being stopped for a simple traffic ticket.

Ignition interlocks for more offenders

Although they aren’t contemplating an all offender ignition interlock law – requiring an ignition interlock for first offenders charged with a BAC of .08 or over, Wisconsin lawmakers are considering an upgrade to their current laws. They’d like to bring in an interlock law for any offender charged with a BAC of .15 or higher.

If you kill someone due to drunk driving, you’re looking at a long prison sentence

There’s no walking away from a drunk driving crash when you’ve killed someone, and for that crime in Wisconsin you could be spending more time in prison. At the very minimum you could receive five years in prison for a drunk driving crash causing death.

Repeat offender? You’re looking at more jail time too

It’s hard to believe that people can rack up five and six OWI offenses without realizing that drunk driving is the wrong choice. These offenders may finally get the message if a new bill requiring more jail time passes, or at the very least they’ll have more time to think about their choice. Instead of six months in jail, they could be looking at 18 months behind bars.

These bills have the potential to change Wisconsin drunk driving laws for the better, but more can be done in the state. An all offender ignition interlock law that works to put an interlock on every offender’s vehicle would be a good step for the state.

The device stops first offenders from becoming repeat offenders, and if other states with all offender laws are any indication, once you do that you can drop your drunk driving rates significantly.

New Bills May Be Just What Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law Needs

Massachusetts drunk drivingThere’s a lot going on in the world of Massachusetts drunk driving lately, and a few new bills have been proposed to stop drunk driving offenders and ensure safer roads for everyone in the state.

Out of all the bills, the one that’s generating the most interest is the Massachusetts ignition interlock bill. This bill has been on the agenda several times but it’s never passed, and now Representative Louis Kafka has brought it to the table again.

The bill proposes that anyone convicted of drunk driving for the first time would be required to use an ignition interlock device for six months. An ignition interlock – a device that tests your blood alcohol content (BAC) every time you start the car, would be required instead of a driver’s license suspension.

If passed, the new law would be a change from current ignition interlock laws designed to stop Massachusetts drunk driving. Right now, ignition interlocks are only required for offenders charged two or more times and who receive a hardship driver’s license.

Representative Kafka has made a passionate plea for ignition interlocks as a means for drunk drivers to continue to work, drive their families, and resume their lives after a Massachusetts drunk driving conviction, but the bill has a long road before it’s law.

A similar bill never made it out of the House Ways and Means Committee when it was proposed, and this bill is currently in front of the Transportation Committee and waiting for a hearing. Although it’s in limbo the good news is that organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and AAA are all testifying on behalf of it, so there’s a positive force pushing it forward.

This could be the year that Massachusetts focuses on public safety and puts a lock down on all drunk driving offenders. Let’s hope there’s good news coming from the state soon.

That Moment When Your Nanny Gets A Florida DUI

Florida DUIWhen you have someone looking after your children you want to know they are safe in their care. After a nanny was arrested recently on a Florida DUI charge, probably quite a few parents are now worried about their own caregivers.

Not everyone realizes just how much drinking alcohol and taking drugs can affect your judgement, coordination, and vision. That’s why the biggest concern when someone has done one, the other, or both is not whether or not that person will get caught; it’s whether or not they will crash their vehicle.

In this case the nanny from Boca Raton, Florida was driving under the influence on a highway when she did crash the car, and unfortunately, she also had the baby in the back seat. Even worse, the baby wasn’t properly secured in his car seat so when police arrived they discovered the car seat had been flipped over.

Police discovered she had several bottles of prescription drugs in the vehicle with her, and they arrested her for Florida DUI causing property damage, possession of a controlled substance, and child neglect.

Thankfully, the baby only had minor bumps to his head. It could have been a lot worse, and the nanny will now have a long road ahead of her as she works her way through the Florida DUI penalty process. After a crime like this, Florida parents may have an even longer road to trusting their own caregivers again.

One way the state of Florida could alleviate the concerns of parents would be to pass an all offender ignition interlock law. An all offender ignition interlock law requires all offenders – including first time offenders – to install an ignition interlock device after they’ve been arrested for Florida DUI.

Florida bypassed the opportunity to act on an all offender interlock bill this past spring. Maybe this is the case that will bring that bill back to life?

MADD Wants Stricter South Carolina DUI Penalties

south carolina dui penalties After a three-year study, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out hard against South Carolina DUI penalties. Long story short, the organization doesn’t believe they are harsh enough to deter drunk drivers, and that the increase in drunk and drugged drivers on the roads is due to the fact that it’s all too easy to avoid a DUI conviction in the state.

To compile the report MADD volunteers sat in on South Carolina DUI court cases, and they put together data that showed a few alarming issues:

Plea deals are a big part of South Carolina DUI cases

Pleading to a lesser offense or taking a deal in a DUI case means that some offenders are avoiding the penalties designed to stop them from drunk driving, and the biggest penalty they are avoiding are ignition interlocks.

Dash cams should be used as evidence

In South Carolina police use dash cams to record their interactions with a suspect, but that dash cam video won’t be used as evidence because there are too many issues with the technology. The program director of MADD South Carolina believes that dash cam recording laws should be changed to allow video evidence from these interactions to stand in a court of law.

South Carolina needs an all offender ignition interlock law

According to Emma’s Law, passed in 2014, any offender arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher will be required to use an interlock for six months. What South Carolina needs is an all offender law that ensures every offender, even someone convicted with a .08 BAC, is required to use an ignition interlock for at least one year.

MADD supports victims and the families of victims after a drunk driving crash, and after three years in various court rooms they would definitely have a good handle on what’s stopping the conviction of possible DUI suspects. South Carolina legislators would do well to take this study into account when making decisions on whether or not it’s time to revise South Carolina DUI penalties.

Why Didn’t Emma’s Law Stop More Drunk Drivers in South Carolina?

drunk driving regulations south carolinaFor a parent, there could be nothing worse than looking a photo of their child and realizing that you can no longer hug them, talk to them, or watch them grow up. But that’s the cold, hard reality for so many parents who have lost a child to drunk driving, and that’s why they stand up and fight for stronger drunk driving regulations like Emma’s Law.

Emma’s Law was named for Emma Longstreet. She was a six-year-old girl from Lexington County, South Carolina who was killed when a drunk driver crashed into her family’s vehicle on New Year’s Day 2012. The man who killed her was a repeat offender, and repeat offenders in the state weren’t required to use ignition interlocks at that time.

The Longstreet family, along with the South Carolina chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), brought Emma’s story to the state legislators and asked that South Carolina pass an all offender ignition interlock law. When Emma’s Law finally passed in 2014, every drunk driver, even first offenders, who are arrested with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher will need to install an ignition interlock in any car they drive.

But according to MADD South Carolina, Emma’s Law is being sabotaged. They’ve released a report where they studied 832 DUI cases during the period of January 1st, 2016 to September 30th, 2016, and they discovered that legal loopholes and  the overall prosecution of DUI cases is much too difficult in the state. The result is plea deals for lesser charges, and when the offender isn’t charge with drunk driving, he or she gets to skip the ignition interlock penalty.

Having an offender skip the interlock penalty means they are free and clear to drink and drive again, and if a repeat offender isn’t restricted from driving, the end result could be the death of an innocent driver or passenger. That was the case for Emma Longstreet.

No parent wants to lose a child to a drunk driver, so it’s vital that South Carolina close their loopholes, tighten up their drunk driving regulations, and stop drunk driving offenders from skipping the interlock program.

Happy Labor Day From Guardian Interlock

happy labor dayYou’ll always have the memories, but the summer of 2017 has now officially wound down and it’s Labor Day again.

Guardian Interlock would like to wish you and your family a safe and happy Labor Day, and if you’re traveling, may you have an enjoyable and safe drive.

Seattle Man Arrested For Drunk Driving After Crashing Into Macklemore

arrested-for-drunk-driving-hitting-macklemore.It’s become so common to hear of celebrities arrested for drunk driving that people don’t even bat an eye anymore when the mugshots appear in the news, but it is unusual to hear about a celebrity hit head-on by a drunk driver. However, that’s what happened to Seattle rapper Mackelmore recently.

He was driving in his home state of Washington on Whidbey Island, a popular tourist destination that’s extremely busy in the summer. He was coming around a curve in the road when a truck crossed the centerline and crashed into him head-on.

State troopers were on the scene quickly, and thankfully Mackelmore and his two passengers were able to walk away from the crash almost uninjured. The driver of the pickup didn’t fare as well because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He was taken to the hospital before he was sent to jail, arrested for drunk driving.

Mackelmore is fortunate he was able to get out of his car and walk away after a head on drunk driving crash, because other people in the same situation have died due to the injuries they’ve sustained. Crashes like these and the lives they claim are just one of the many reasons why Washington State requires ignition interlocks for all offenders.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), someone who drives drunk will get behind the wheel after drinking an average of 80 times before they are stopped by police and arrested for drunk driving.  With an ignition interlock on an offender’s vehicle, he or she won’t be able to start the car if they have alcohol in their system; without an interlock, that person could cause a crash just like the one Mackelmore was in.

This won’t be the last time there’s a celebrity mentioned along with drunk driving, but thankfully Mackelmore has lived to rap another day and the driver is in jail.

Is San Diego County Aware That Alcohol And Driving Don’t Mix?

alcohol and driving san diegoThe number one thing to take note of when it comes to drunk driving is that the arrests, injuries, and deaths that occur because someone mixed alcohol and driving are completely preventable. If you get behind the wheel of a car drunk it’s a choice you’re making, and no matter how out of it you may be at the time, you’re responsible for that choice.

The people driving on the roads in San Diego County should keep that in mind. With the Fourth of July holiday looming over them, the county had already been on a losing streak as far as alcohol and driving. For eight weekends in a row, someone in that single county in California had died in a DUI crash. Among the victims were a woman who was eight months pregnant. Both she and her unborn baby died. There was also a man out jogging with his wife, and a drunk driver jumped the curb and crashed into him.

That’s a lot of families who have lost someone they loved to a preventable crash, and many police officers who have had to go and break the news to those families. Things have become so bad there that, right before the Fourth of July holiday, police and civic leaders in the county came before the press while standing in front of a smashed vehicle and essentially begged people to not drink and drive during the holiday. Given that the Fourth of July is considered one of the most dangerous days of the year to be on the roads, they had a tough task ahead of them.

Unfortunately, the plea to stop drunk driving didn’t work: two more people were killed on the Fourth in San Diego County, and 62 people were arrested for DUI-related charges.

What’s it going to take to stop the constant flow of drunk drivers in San Diego County? It’s a huge problem that’s probably got law enforcement stumped, but at the very least they have a brand new ignition interlock law taking effect in 2018 and that will definitely be a helping hand. It may still be a year away, but it’s definitely a law that’s needed in San Diego County.

 

NSC Hands Out An “F” For Florida Drunk Driving Crashes

florida drunk driving Florida drunk driving crashes and arrests have kept the state solidly near the bottom of the list of states who take a strong stand against drunk driving. With drunk drivers ruling the roads in the Sunshine State, it’s not surprising that the National Safety Council (NSC) has given Florida an F rating in road safety.

In the report “The State of Safety: A State-by-State Report” the NSC highlights which states are doing well with road, community, home, and workplace safety, and it also puts a spotlight on states that aren’t where they should be for things like drunk driving, drugged driving, and workplace incidences like falls.

In terms of road safety, and that includes Florida drunk driving crashes and arrests, Florida received an F grade from the NSC. It wasn’t at the very bottom of the list, ranking 44th out of 50 states, but Florida roads were the venue for almost 3,000 traffic crash deaths in 2015.

A few issues that made the NSC give Florida an F rating include:

• Florida doesn’t require ignition interlocks for all offenders
Distracted driving is still a major issue as there is no total cellphone ban for all drivers
• Seat belts aren’t required by all passengers in all seated positions in a vehicle

Florida could make great strides to overcome their NSC letter grade if they did one thing: pass an all offender ignition interlock law. An all offender bill was recently on the table and it did pass through a few committees, but it died before it could gain any traction.

If Florida had passed an interlock law this year they would have joined 30 other states who have also passed this life saving law, and with other bills in other states scheduled for hearings in upcoming sessions, Florida doesn’t need an F grade from the NSC to show it’s really lagging behind in terms of road safety.

In this case, F doesn’t stand for Florida; it stands for failure. Let’s hope 2018 is the year the state gets its act together and makes an attempt to fix these issues.

Should The Lookback Period Be Removed From New Mexico DWI Laws?

DWI lawsTime really flies when you’re saving lives, and it’s been 12 years since New Mexico passed the first ignition interlock law in the United States. Since that time the state has cracked down hard on drunk drivers, and other states in the country have followed suit by passing their own ignition interlock laws. Every state now has some type of interlock law on the books, and there are now 30 states who have passed all offender ignition interlock laws.

Give New Mexico’s history of keeping drunk driving offenders off the roads, why is a District Attorney asking for harsher DWI laws in the state? It turns out that one drunk driving offender got off fairly easily after he caused a crash, but it was the lookback period that prevented him from being properly prosecuted.

The man, Christopher Garcia, was driving under the influence of drugs including cocaine, opiates, and amphetamine when he crashed. The victim in the crash was severely injured, and because it was Garcia’s third DWI charge, the goal of the prosecutor was to have him sentenced to significant jail time.

When he appeared in court he was sentenced to three years in prison, but the Judicial District Attorney on the case felt that it was far too light considering what he’d done, the injury he had caused, and the fact that he had two prior DWIs on his record. Unfortunately, because the offender’s previous two convictions were more than 10 years old, they didn’t count toward his new conviction.

That 10 year period, also known washout, is the set amount of time that any previous DWI or DUI can be held against you in a court of law. Once the 10-year period has passed, they are no longer relevant to other charges, and because of that three years in prison is all this offender could receive. He’ll also spend two years on probation when his jail time is up.

Lookbacks are part of most state’s DWI laws, and if they become a significant problem for prosecutors, lawmakers have the option to extend them or eliminate them altogether. That’s what may be up next for New Mexico, and if so, that change could prevent another offender like this one from getting off light.

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