Senate Bill 259 Bill Aims to Keep Nevada Citizens Alive.

Nevada ignition interlock bill signsNevada’s Senator Mark Manendo is out to save lives. Make no mistake about that.

Manendo sponsored Nevada Senate Bill 259, which revises state DUI laws in a way that takes dangerous impaired drivers off the road. It does that by increasing access to ignition interlocks – car breathalyzer devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

This Nevada ignition interlock bill makes a variety of intelligent changes to existing DUI laws:

Existing Law: Upon DUI arrest, your license is revoked for 90 days.

SB 259: Revocation would be 185 days for DUI. However, you would be allowed to drive with a restricted license if install an ignition interlock.

Existing Law: Ignition interlocks are only required for felony DUIs or misdemeanor DUIs with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

SB 259: All drunk driving offenses would require an ignition interlock if the offender wants to restore driving privileges.

There are some other provisions that show that Manendo and other proponents of the new Nevada ignition interlock bill have their thinking cap on:

  • An officer must advise a driver upon arrest that he or she must install an ignition interlock to get driving privileges restored. This eliminates the “I didn’t know” excuse.
  • The law also allows the court to extend the ignition interlock period if the interlock provider reports failed tests due to alcohol. This is a vital provision: if a driver cannot get used to driving sober, it’s important to keep the ignition interlock on the vehicle for the protection of the
  • Also, the restricted driver’s license would include a notation that the driver requires an ignition interlock. This ensures that a violator won’t slip by at a traffic stop.
  • Another change, and a big one: anyone helping a user pass an ignition interlock breath test by supplying a breath sample is guilty of a misdemeanor. This type of provision is surprisingly rare, even as dram shop and social host laws holding people liable for the damage wrought by drunk drivers are on the rise. Why should it be different for someone enabling a drunk person to drive?
  • Once you have applied for the restricted license, failure to install the device will result in a further license revocation of 3 or 5 years, depending on one’s record. This helps plug a loophole that allows offenders to avoid installing an ignition interlock.
  • Finally, the new law makes discounts and waivers available for people below the federal poverty level. This is important in order to ensure that the law is fair to all.

Is SB 259 perfect? Not quite. A DUI offender can choose not to apply for driving privileges and avoid the interlock altogether. While this seems reasonable, it means that there will be suspended drivers without interlocks who may choose to drive anyway, in violation of the law. Research shows that more than half of offenders with revoked licenses drive anyway.

But despite this flaw, Senate Bill 259 is an excellent set of additions to Nevada DUI law, and Senator Manendo was right when he called the Nevada ignition interlock bill a “lifesaving measure.”

Will it save Nevadan lives? Only if it passes.  And road safety advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) want it to pass.  One of the documents placed in exhibit during the legislative discussions outlines the case for SB 259 in detail.

But we’ll just ask Nevadans: please take a look around at your friends and family. Do you want to protect them from drunk drivers? Then help SB 259 pass.