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.

Friday fallout: Ignition Interlock Compliance Can Reduce DUI in Illinois

ignition interlock IllinoisIf no one ever tried to innovate in the fight drunk driving, there would be no police grade breathalyzers, no ignition interlock devices, and no roadside checkpoints. Life would go on as it did back when cars first hit the roads, and decade after decade would pass with drunk drivers claiming the lives of even more innocent people than it does now.

That’s why it’s not surprising that an opinion writer in Champaign County, Illinois has come up with what he hopes could be a solution to stopping drunk drivers. Although he acknowledges that both Illinois and Champaign County are already tough on drunk drivers, with an all offender ignition interlock law in place and numerous other penalties to deter drunk drivers, he also feels as though there could be other steps the county could take to stop these drivers.

Focusing on the issue of stopping people who have been drinking from driving home after they leave the bar at night, he’s suggested three steps:

  • Anyone who has a Class A liquor license, including restaurants, pubs, bars, and nightclubs, would be given a breathalyzer device and the training to use it. Using the breathalyzer would be one of the conditions under which that establishment could serve alcohol
  • Any person who drives a vehicle to a place that serves alcohol would be required to hand over their keys to the bartender before they could be served
  • When the person leaves the bar, he or she would have to blow into a breathalyzer before they would get their keys back. If they blow over the legal limit of .08, he or she would receive a free parking sticker and a shuttle would be called to get them home safely

These are good ideas, and they definitely take a new approach to the fight against drunk driving, but the implementation of a program like this would be difficult. On a busy night a bar would have their hands full with people who would need to blow before they could leave, and that wouldn’t stop anyone who just happened to have an extra set of keys in their pocket either. The room for error when obtaining a sample is also high, and there would have to be a rigorous training program for anyone who would be operating the breathalyzer.

A better idea of Illinois is to establish an ignition interlock compliance program and ensure that each and every offender who should be using an interlock actually is using an interlock. Because it’s so often repeat offenders and people driving on suspended driver’s licenses who make the choice to drink and drive over and over again, putting the brakes on these offenders is exactly what Illinois needs to curb their rate of drunk driving.

Could Ignition Interlock Laws Sweep The Country This Year?

ignition interlock lawsIgnition interlock laws have officially begun to take over the nation, and although there have been a few bumps in the road for some states, 2017 could be the year that the majority of states make the decision to require all drunk driving offenders to use the device.

Here are a few updates in the world of ignition interlock laws.


It won’t be effective until November 1st, 2017, but Oklahoma State Bill 643 has crossed the desk of the Governor and received the signature required to make it law. There are a few things that this new law will put into place in Oklahoma. To start, Oklahoma will now require ignition interlocks for every offender including first times offenders who are arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or over.

The new law will also create an Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP), and that program will assist any first-time offender with rehabilitation while they are using their ignition interlock.


Ignition interlock laws are scheduled to change in Nevada thanks to a new bill that’s just been signed. Senate Bill 259 was signed into law by the Governor and will be in effect as of October 1st, 2018.

The new law changes the current ignition interlock law to require anyone arrested for drunk driving to use an interlock for a 90-day period. Once that person is convicted, he or she will be required to use the interlock for at least six months. This is a big switch from the current laws that only require ignition interlocks for first offenders who are arrested with a BAC over .018, although a judge is able to ask a first offender to use an interlock for three to six months if they deem it necessary.

The summer is still young, and these are just two ignition interlock laws that have been signed into law over the past month. Could there be more before the summer is out?

Nevada All Offender Ignition Interlock Law On The Way

all offender ignition interlock lawNevada might be a well-known place to kick back, drink, and have fun, but it also now has the distinction of being the thirtieth state to pass an all offender ignition interlock law. Given the amount of crashes happening in and around Las Vegas, it looks like a timely moment to pass such a law too.

Senate Bill 259 was recently signed by Governor Brian Sandoval, and that bill requires anyone who is arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 to use an ignition interlock device for 90 days after a DUI arrest. Once that person is convicted of DUI, he or she will be required to use the ignition interlock for at least six months.

When this change comes it will be a big switch from the current DUI laws. Right now if a first offender is arrested for drunk driving in Nevada, he or she needs to have a BAC of 0.18, over double the legal limit, for a judge to require an ignition interlock for a period of 1 year. They also may order the interlock for any first offender with a lower BAC for three to six months, but that’s strictly at the judge’s discretion.

The new all offender ignition interlock law in Nevada is coming in at a time when crashes seem to be escalating in the state. Two teenagers were just killed when a drunk driver collided with their vehicle and they were both ejected. He’s been charged with two counts of DUI resulting in death. Another crash near Carson City happened because a drunk driver crossed a double line on a highway and hit another vehicle head on. She’s also been charged with DUI.

Thankfully the new Nevada all offender ignition interlock law will take effect on October 1st, 2018, and to stop first time drunk drivers from becoming repeat offenders, it can’t come a moment too soon.

Drivers Arrested For OVI in Ohio May Have To Install Uber Or Lyft

OVI in OhioIn Ohio the battle over penalties for OVI (operating vehicle impaired) has been raging for a long time, but in the past few years it heated up as lawmakers in the state struggled to pass Annie’s Law. A law that requires ignition interlocks for all offenders, Annie’s Law came to fruition recently after years of uncertainty over whether it would ever pass.

Given the difficulty and time it takes to pass a new drunk driving penalty like Ohio’s all offender ignition interlock law, it’s not surprising that some judges are using their courtrooms to put their own spin on drunk driving penalties without waiting for a nod from lawmakers.

Take one judge in Painseville Municipal Court. If someone makes the decision to drink and drive, he’s decided that all drunk drivers who pass through his court will be required to install a ride-sharing app like Lyft or Uber as part of their penalty.

It’s not a crazy idea either: since they look at the device hundreds of times a day, offenders are more likely to remember to use that app if they are have been drinking and need to get home.

If having that offender use Uber results in saving a life, it’s well worth it, and along with ignition interlocks as a mandatory part of the penalty process for an OVI in Ohio, the roads should be much safer for everyone who drives on them.

No, This Graduation Crash Wasn’t Due To Teen Drunk Driving

teen drunk driving Prom, graduation, and year end parties: given everything that goes on in May and June every year, it’s no surprise that the end of the school year is a peak time for teen drunk driving.

High schools have been doing their part to fight back against teen drunk driving. Most schools have a zero tolerance policy in place, and many now use breathalyzers to stop teens from drinking at school events.

But sometimes it’s not teen drunk drivers that school administrators need to worry about during big events: it’s the teachers themselves. That’s what happened in Catawba County, North Carolina during the Bunker Hill High School graduation. Instead of a teenager drinking too much, it was the assistant principal, and he was arrested in the parking lot right when the grad was taking place.

Police pulled him over after he crashed into 2 parked cars, and although it was only 4:00 pm in the afternoon, when he blew into a breathalyzer he had a .16 blood alcohol concentration (BAC); double the legal limit.

Most teachers are good role models for teens, but not this teacher. But this could be a teachable moment for the teens at the grad, because the penalties he receives may be a good incentive for any teen to stay sober behind the wheel. In North Carolina a first drunk driving offense may result in that offender spending anywhere from 1 day to 2 years in jail. He or she will pay up to $4,000 in fines, and, as is the case with this offender, if they have a BAC of 0.15 or higher, he or she will be required to install an ignition interlock when his driver’s license suspension is up.

Thankfully no one was hurt that day. Although it probably put a bit of a damper on graduation, there’s always a bright side: maybe the timing of this arrest stopped any teens who would have been tempted to drink and drive after their graduation.

Will This Year See a New Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Law?

Massachusetts ignition interlock law,Anti-drunk driving advocates want a Massachusetts ignition interlock law, and they aren’t going to stop fighting until they manage to pass one. That’s why they are coming out in support of two proposed bills that could be presented in the 2016/2017 session.

Right now repeat offenders in Massachusetts are required to install an ignition interlock in any vehicle they drive, but only after they have obtained a hardship license after two or more drunk driving convictions. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Massachusetts would like to see first time offenders be required to use the device too.

The new bill would require first-time offenders to install such devices as well.

Massachusetts wants a new ignition interlock law for good reason: the state, along with Idaho, are currently the only ones in the entire country without some sort of first offender law. When MADD released their report on drunk driving recently, they detailed how ignition interlocks have stopped over 31,000 offenders from driving drunk in the state.

It’s easy to imagine how many drunk drivers could be stopped if all offenders were required to install an ignition interlock, but the road to the governor’s desk hasn’t been easy in Massachusetts. This proposed law has been brought up several times before, most notably in 2015 when it died in the Ways and Means Committee.

One of the senators opposed to the bill has cited the issue of ignition interlock false positives as a reason first offenders should not be required to use the device, but false positives can be easily avoided. If you’ve just eaten something with yeasty, had juice or a fruity drink, drank anything with vinegar in it, or had an energy drink, you just need to wait fifteen minutes before you blow or wash out your mouth with water. Once you do, you should have no problem with false positives.

Let’s hope this is the year that an all offender Massachusetts ignition interlock law makes it to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

Friday Fallout: Laws Have Changed For Oklahoma Drunk Drivers

Oklahoma drunk driversIt took a bit of effort to pass it, but Oklahoma now has a brand new drunk driving law. A Senate Bill that toughens up penalties for Oklahoma drunk drivers has been signed, sealed, and delivered into law by Governor Mary Fallin.

The new law gives Oklahoma drunk drivers a few options when they are stopped and charged with drunk driving. Option one allows them to immediately install an ignition interlock in their vehicles and attend a diversionary program. A diversionary program in Oklahoma may involve the offender performing community service or completing a DUI class.

friday-falloutOption two for Oklahoma drunk drivers is the wait and see approach. That means the offender can wait for their criminal case to go to court, and at that time they will see if their driver’s license suspension is upheld or dismissed. Under the new law Oklahoma drunk drivers will also be in hot water if they decline to submit to a breathalyzer, because it is now illegal to refuse.

Although organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are supportive of the new laws because it allows an offender to immediately install and drive with an ignition interlock, not everyone is on board.

DUI attorneys in the state are believe that the new law violates the rights of Oklahoma drunk drivers. They believe that a citizen needs to be allowed their due process rights and if they are required to immediately install an ignition interlock, that will presume guilt. They’ve vowed to challenge the new laws in court.

But what they don’t mention is that most Oklahoma drunk drivers are convicted after a drunk driving arrest, and an immediate ignition interlock lets that person get on with his or her life. If they’d like to take a chance and not drive until their hearing, everything in life that requires driving is put on hold. You can’t drive the kids to school or drive to their job, and they might end up with an ignition interlock in their car anyway if the judge requires one.

If that’s the case, why would any Oklahoma drunk driver choose anything other an ignition interlock?

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock will bring you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact, or fallout, of drunk driving.

Memories Of Childhood Shouldn’t Include A Drunk Driving Charge

drunk driving chargeWhat do you want your kids to remember about their childhood? Family vacations, sporting events, much-loved pets, and a…drunk driving charge? It happens all too often: a parent will make the decision to drink and drive, get caught, and have to explain to his or her children what happened and why they made that irresponsible choice.

It’s not a great childhood memory for any kid, and it’s even worse if what you remember is your parent asking you to help them get out of a potential drunk driving charge by making you blow into their ignition interlock.

An ignition interlock is a mandatory penalty for a repeat offender in Wisconsin, but that interlock didn’t stop a 5-time offender from driving anyway. How did he do it? He asked his teenage son to blow into the ignition interlock to start the car.

The man was originally pulled over for speeding, but when they stopped him they suspected drunk driving. Police asked him to perform field sobriety tests and he failed, so they booked him for OWI (operating while impaired). Police also noted that he had an ignition interlock in the car, and when asked how he started the car, the consensus was that the teenage son blew into it for him.

Having your child along when you receive yet another drunk driving charge isn’t a shining moment in anyone’s parental journey, but it’s even worse because this man asked his child to help him participate in breaking the law by blowing into the ignition interlock.

Ignition interlocks work because they stop drunk drivers, but they can’t stop a driver who’s getting someone else to help them drive drunk. As far as childhood memories go, this one won’t go down in the positive column, so don’t make the same mistake with your own children. If you drink, don’t drive.

Friday Fallout: How Much Will A Drunk Driving Charge Cost?

How much will a drunk driving charge costHow much will a drunk driving charge cost? If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in your state, you might be considering how much of a hit your bank account is going to take.

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to know exactly how much your drunk driving charge will cost you personally until you get in front of a judge, but a recent case in North Carolina suggests it might add up to a huge number.

A twenty-two-year-old man went to court for his DUI charge after he crashed into two people on an Interstate, and he was given a great plea deal. The actual DUI charge was dropped so it wouldn’t appear on his record, and he was only given supervised probation.

friday-falloutSo no DUI charge, no jail time, no problem, right? Wrong. He actually wasn’t able to walk away free and clear because he was ordered to pay almost $600,000 in restitution to cover the medical bills of the people he hit.

Some states may require a drunk driver to pay restitution to his or her victims if they’re convicted of DUI or DWI, so it’s not unheard of that he’d have to pay but the price tag in this case is definitely high.

Restitution really brings up the costs of a DUI, but in any drunk driving charge there are other fines and penalties to consider including:

There’s no one-size-fits-all for how much will a drunk driving charge cost you, but these are things you might want to take into consideration the next time you’re tempted to drink and drive. Anything can happen when you’re under the influence of alcohol, and you don’t want to be the person to injure someone and receive a six hundred thousand dollar bill.

The Friday Fallout: Every Friday Guardian Interlock will bring you a unique drunk driving case that demonstrates the impact, or fallout, of drunk driving.

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