Last year Alabama became the last state in the U.S. to pass its own ignition interlock law. The interlock provisions of Act 11-613 (HB 361) go into effect on September 1, 2012. This Act significantly strengthens consequences for drunk driving.
The Act strongly supports the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) and focuses primarily on multiple offenders and those with high BAC levels of 0.15 or higher. In addition to increases in fines and jail terms, the following license revocation and interlock installation periods apply:
First Time Revocation – BAC >=0.15 OR BAC >=0.08 with a minor under 14 in vehicle OR refusal to submit to breath testing OR someone other than driver was injured at the time of offense
One year license revocation with mandatory interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years.
2nd Revocation (In a 5-year period)
One year license revocation with mandatory interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
3rd or Revocation (In a 5-year period)
One year license revocation with mandatory interlock installation for a minimum of 3 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
4th or Revocation (In a 5-year period)
One year license revocation with mandatory interlock installation for a minimum of 5 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
- Offenders will be required to get an “ignition interlock required” type license to indicate the operator is required to maintain an interlock device.
- Any convicted offender required to utilize ignition interlock who operates a vehicle without ignition interlock shall be subjected to an additional period of 6 months interlock requirement, in addition to other penalties.
- While the IID is installed if the offender incurs any of the following violations, the time the IID is installed on the car will be extended for 6 months:
- Having a BAC >=.02 four or more times in a 30-day period
- Attempting to tamper with or circumvent the device
- Failure to get service within a 30-day period
- If the person is re-arrested for a DUI offense and refuses to submit to breath testing and is subsequently convicted OR the convicted defendant’s BAC was >0.15, the duration of the time the IID is required shall be doubled.
Why is this law good?
- Interlocks can only work when they are installed. According to the NHTSA between 60% and 80% of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive. Without the restriction of an interlock they could be driving drunk. Long term revocations with no interlock options can lead people to taking the risk of driving on suspension which can lead to additional fines, legal issues, and possible drunk driving offenses. Interlocks help protect everyone. This Act allows individuals to get back on the road legally and safely so that they can maintain employment and family/societal obligations. Multiple recent studies show that interlocks can reduce DUI recidivism by up to 90% while they are installed (Voas & Marques, 2003; Willis et al., 2005; Vezina, 2002; Tippetts & Voas, 1997; Coben & Larkin, 1999).
- The new law focuses on hardcore drunk drivers. In 2009, 70% of drivers involved in drunk driving fatalities had a BAC level of .15 or higher – a trend that has remained relatively unchanged for more than a decade (NHTSA/FARS, 2010). By requiring Ignition Interlocks driving privileges for those with high BAC levels and multiple-offenses, this Act puts an ignition interlock between them and the ability to drive after consuming alcohol, which is safer for them and the communities they live in.
- Behavioral change takes time. This Act also takes into account that it takes time and effort to change behaviors. Longer mandatory IID installation periods for multiple-offenders address the need for and support behavioral change.
Alabama may have been the last state to pass its own interlock law, but it’s only the 13th state to require an IID for first-time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or greater. Hopefully more states will pass laws similar to the new Alabama interlock law and help make all of our roads safer!