On May 25, 2016, Pennsylvania enacted Act 33. This regulation adds the requirement for a car ignition interlock system for first-time offenders who were convicted on drunk-driving charges with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent or greater. Those convicted and required to use the system will have to use the ignition interlocks for at least one year.
The ignition interlock system is a breathalyzer for an individual’s vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. It will not allow the driver’s car to start if they are drunk. And these devices are not cheap: to lease an ignition interlock system for one year costs approximately $1,200.00. That’s in addition to otherfines, costs and penalties associated with a DUI conviction.
Previously the ignition interlock requirement applied only to repeat drunk driving offenders in Pennsylvania. Essentially, this new law means that anyone convicted of a DUI offense with a blood-alcohol content over 0.10 [legal limit is .08] must use the ignition interlock unit. However, it’s worth noting that the interlock requirement does not take effect for 15 months, meaning those convicted now for a first-time DUI will still face the potential of a license suspension rather than the ignition interlock system.
It is also important to recognize that if you are arrested and convicted for a first-time DUI, you may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, or ARD. If you qualify and satisfy the requirements of ARD, it will leave you without a conviction and you will likely not be affected by this new law requiring an ignition interlock system.
Advocates claim a dual benefit: they argue the new law will protect people on the roads and also allow first-time offenders to avoid the license suspension which comes with a conviction, meaning they can keep their jobs or other responsibilities.
The push for the enactment of this regulation was spurred in 2015 when there were 12,884 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania that caused 306 deaths and 6,042 alcohol-related injuries.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence for the first time, the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell have extensive experience in assisting clients through these matters. They will assist you in determining if you qualify for ARD, whether the Program is right for you, and guiding you through the Application process.
ARD may not be right or even available to you, but the best way to determine this is by speaking with a criminal defense attorney equipped to guide you through this process. If any of the above information applies to you, call for a free consultation at (215)-947-6240 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.
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