Louisiana DUI Bill Promotes Ignition Interlock over Hardship License
Currently you can drive in Louisiana with an OWI if you plead hardship. That will change if a new bill, just passed by the Louisiana House, makes it through the Senate and into law.
The Louisiana Hardship License – On the Way Out?
Normally Louisiana drunk drivers have their licenses suspended. However, the state allows that the inability to drive can place an undue strain on some offenders. It can mean losing a job, being unable to take kids to school, or missing medical treatment or rehab.
Up to now, Louisiana deals with that problem through pure leniency. An OWI offender can apply for a Louisiana hardship license which allows them to drive if the purpose is one of the “necessities of life.” These can include grocery shopping and driving to work. A hardship license helps out the offender, but doesn’t confront the fact that he or she might well drive drunk again.
The Ignition Interlock – No Longer Just an Option
The bill, HB677, requires that an OWI offender must install an ignition interlock in order to regain driving privileges. Hardship is not enough. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
If passed, the bill will become a boost for public safety. Research shows that suspended licenses don’t work – half or more of suspended motorists drive anyway. An ignition interlock is the only measure which actually prevents a driver from getting behind the wheel while drunk.
There are always people who object to restoring driving privileges quickly after an OWI. They feel that it’s not right, that the drunk driver should not be allowed to drive. The problem is, short of imprisonment, it’s very hard to enforce the prohibition. On the other hand, installing ignition interlocks works well, and the cost is borne by the offender. The Louisiana hardship license is lenient, but offers no protection to society.
Anyone interested in taking drunk drivers off Louisiana’s roads and streets should support HB677. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has a petition supporting the bill. If you’re a Louisianan, sign it and send to your State Senator and Governor. If you’re from another state, support ignition interlock laws where you live. You, your friends and family will be safer on the roads because of it.