Texas Gives DWI Offenders Using Interlocks a Second Chance
A DWI on one’s record can be an immense burden. Even after the fines are paid, the jail time served, and the ignition interlock installed and removed, those convicted of drunk driving will find roadblocks everywhere. Apartment-hunting becomes a problem, as a background check will reveal the DWI and disqualify them. If they decide to buy a house, the loan could well be refused. So could the job that would pay the loan. Do such offenders deserve a second chance?
Texas just said yes. The Governor has signed House Bill 3016. The new law lets low-level DWI offenders request an order of non-disclosure after their sentence has been served. That means that offenders would not be required by law to reveal their DWI.
A Crucial Element – The Ignition Interlock
The new Texas second chance law has a key incentive built in that works not only to the benefit of offenders who are driving responsibly, but for society as well. An offender can wait 5 years for the non-disclosure request to be granted, or just 6 months – provided the offender installs an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
The idea of this vital provision is that it takes a long time to ensure that a DWI driver is not still drinking and driving – hence the 5-year wait. But if the offender uses an ignition interlock, their breath is tested every time they drive. If the offender is still inclined to drink and drive, the interlock device will let everyone know. Meanwhile, everyone on the road is protected because a drunk driver cannot start an interlock-equipped vehicle.
Not Everyone Eligible
The option of non-disclosure of a DWI is only available to offenders who did not injure anyone during their DWI, and those who had a blood alcohol concentration of .14 or below.
But those who fit the requirements have something of great value: a second chance. With the Texas second chance law, the possibility of a new house or a good job is not so remote. Sobriety is the key, and the ignition interlock is the technology that ensures that offenders stay sober.
Congratulations Texas for passing a law that makes excellent use of ignition interlock technology and helps DWI offenders get their lives back together.