MADD: Don’t Change West Virginia Administrative License Revocation Law

Administrative License Revocation lawHow swiftly do you need to punish a driver for making the decision to drive drunk? In some states punishment is swift and immediate. The driver will be arrested, taken to jail where he or she is processed, and will most likely receive an immediate driver’s license suspension. Some states also allow the offender the benefit of installing an ignition interlock device under the Administrative License Revocation Law.

But not all states penalize drunk drivers immediately via an Administrative License Revocation law or otherwise, and now West Virginia has decided they’d like to make changes to their own law with Senate Bill 212.

The bill would change the revocation law that was passed in 2008; a law that requires all drunk driving offenders who want to drive during their mandatory suspension to use an ignition interlock device. If Senate Bill 212 passes, it would do away with that mandatory suspension at the time of arrest.

That’s not good news for anti-drunk driving groups, especially Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). They’ve stood up in opposition of the bill to the House Judiciary Chairman and requested a public hearing because they feel that the bill will weaken the otherwise strong drunk driving laws in West Virginia.

West Virginia Administrative License Revocation law is MADD approved because it allows a first offender to immediately install an ignition interlock, and if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .08 and .14, they can keep driving as they normally would for their four month suspension period. If you have a BAC over .15, the offender would  have to use the interlock for nine months. These swift punishments give offenders the incentive to use the interlock to keep driving, and those interlocks will keep drunk drivers from re-offending.

There’s no information on whether or not MADD will get their hearing, but because their commitment to keep drunk drivers off the roads has always included ignition interlocks, this isn’t a bill they’ll stand for. Let’s hope West Virginia does the right thing and Bill 212 doesn’t pass to change the Administrative License Revocation Law.

Maybe West Virginians Will Think Twice About Drunk Driving Now

Andrea-Willys-LawWhat’s more tragic than a driving under the influence (DUI) crash involving young people? Families who have lost a young loved one due to drunk driving have said it feels impossible to move on, and healing can only begin when they stand up and try to save another family from experiencing the same grief. That’s what the motivation was behind West Virginia’s latest DUI legislation, and now that it has finally passed into law, two families can feel as though they’ve made a difference in the fight against drunk driving.

The families of Andrea Bailes and Willy Shuman have been pushing for stricter DUI laws in West Virginia since they lost their children in separate DUI crashes. Prior to the passing of House Bill 2664, otherwise known as Andrea and Willy’s Law, drunk drivers were walking away with penalties that didn’t fit the crime.

Andrea Bailes was only 14 when she was involved in a DUI crash that claimed her life. For her family, it was too much to bear that the driver would only receive a minimal jail sentence and be able to move on with his life. Willy Shuman, a West Virginia University student, was killed in a drunk driving crash caused by a friend of his. Although the driver admitted he was drunk and caused the crash, the maximum sentence was one year in jail.

With the passing of Andrea and Willy’s Law, penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs will increase in West Virginia. From now on, all DUI crashes resulting in death will be an automatic felony offense, and jail time will increase from 2 to 10 years to 3 to 15 years. Lawmakers have also made it a felony if you cause a DUI-related crash that results in serious bodily injury, and penalties will increase for 3rd time or more DUI offenders.

These changes come after West Virginia made another big change in 2008, requiring mandatory ignition interlock devices for all offenders. Because of that law, drunk driving deaths have since dropped by 36% in the state.

Although the new law can’t bring back Andrea Bailes and Willy Shuman, maybe the message will get through to the people of West Virginia who are still tempted to drink and drive—crashes can happen to you or someone you love, so don’t get behind the wheel after drinking.

Drive Sober App No Car Breathalyzer, But It Might Stop DUI

no DUI signSince the advent of smartphones, there has been a wide range of productivity apps designed to help you with tasks in your day-to-day life. But did you know there are apps designed to stop you from getting behind the wheel after drinking and driving? Although they aren’t as effective as a car breathalyzer, Drive Sober apps do provide valuable reminders and are full of essential services designed to keep you from driving under the influence.

Take Drive Sober West Virginia for example – sponsored by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the app is designed to remind any driver that drinking and driving isn’t worth the risk. It includes a list of companies you can call if you need a sober ride home, DUI laws and penalties, information on car breathalyzers and West Virginia’s ignition interlock program, as well as what a DUI will actually cost you should you be stopped. And to give you a visual idea of what drinking and driving is really like, the app includes a sample of impairment or ‘beer’ goggles you can check out.

Although it sounds like the app is designed into scaring someone into not drinking and driving, apps like Drive Sober West Virginia are actually created to help you keep your safety in mind. In 2012, there were 5654 people arrested for driving under the influence, and 94 alcohol-related fatalities. That’s a lot of people who could have benefited from a reminder to not to drink and drive.

Many different state highway safety programs have created their own version of the Drive Sober app including Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Wyoming, and all are available on the app store. No matter what state you drive in, it’s never a bad idea to have a reminder on your smartphone about the consequences of drinking and driving.

West Virginia Offers DUI Offenders a Fast Track to an Ignition Interlock

The landscape for DUI offenders in West Virginia is about to change for the better. A new law allows people charged with DUI to join the state’s ignition interlock program immediately, provided they waive their hearing.

An ignition interlock is a device which tests a driver’s breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a certain level.

bigstock-traffic-stop-22175018-900x273In most states, a person charged with DUI can request a hearing to challenge the case immediately. If the hearing is unsuccessful, punishment may include having to drive with an interlock, after a set period of suspension elapses.

The West Virginia law lets offenders who accept the charge skip right to the interlock, instead of losing their license for a period of time.

It might seem counter-intuitive to some: why let DUI offenders drive? But in fact, ignition interlock programs are known to reduce alcohol-related road accidents and fatalities. The reason is that too many
offenders, particularly problem drinkers who pose the worst danger, continue to drink and drive without their licenses.

Ignition interlocks are the proven, practical answer. They prevent an offender from driving if they have been drinking. They also collect data on failed tests, so the authorities can track the progress of the driver’s efforts to adhere to a sobriety program.

The West Virginia DMV says that the effect will be twofold: it will protect other motorists and pedestrians,by keeping impaired drivers off the roads, and also speed up the  offender’s rehabilitation.

Congratulations to West Virginia for making their roads safer.

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