Portland Drunk Driver Attorney Welcomes New Ignition Interlocks Law

Drunk drivers kill literally thousands of people each year in the United States, and Oregon has seen its fair share of this type of tragedy, but steps to curb the likelihood of this happening on Oregon roads in the future have been welcomed by a Portland drunk driver attorney.

Both the Senate and the state of Oregon have passed new legislation on ignition interlock devices that will make life very awkward for those people who like to have a few drinks and then get behind the wheel of a car.  As with any stringent legal reforms, there were bound to be conflicting views surrounding new interlock ignition legislation.

MADD joins forces with the U.S. Senate

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a new highway bill, at least a portion of which was strongly supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The new legislation includes provisions for:

  • An appropriation of $24 million for a federal program which could potentially lead to alcohol detection systems becoming mandatory standard equipment in all vehicles
  • The bill also provides $40 million in financial incentives to states (like Oregon) that require anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated to put ignition interlocks in their cars.

While not every state has fallen into line, this week saw Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sign House Bill 4017 into law. MADD, along with a number of Portland drunk driver attorneys, immediately voiced their approval for the new legislation, which requires an ignition interlock device to be put into cars used by the most dangerous DUII offenders. What’s more, the device must remain on the offenders’ vehicles for no less than five years.

The American Beverage Institute is not Happy…

The American Beverage Institute (ABI) has expressed concern at the severity of the Senate’s new bill. They feel that because ignition interlock devices aren’t 100 percent accurate, many people who are well under the legal limit will find themselves unable to start their cars if ignition interlocks become standard equipment on all vehicles. They didn’t mention the effect the new law might have on sales of alcoholic beverages in restaurants, but it no doubt crossed their minds!

The ABI pointed to the following statistics as arguments against the mandatory introduction of ignition interlocks in all vehicles:

  • Because the ignition interlock devices aren’t 100 percent accurate, they would most likely be set to kick in at levels of .03 or .04 for legal liability reasons. That’s about half of the legal limit in most states.
  • The ABI maintains that even if the devices were correct in 99.99966 percent of cases, this would still lead to about 4,000 incorrect diagnoses each and every day. The ABI says this would lead to thousands of sober drivers every day being stuck with a car that wouldn’t start.

First time DUII offenders who have a relatively low blood alcohol content shouldn’t be forced to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, according to the ABI. They did, however, agree with the new Oregon law which relates to repeat offenders. They also accept that any driver who has been arrested for DUII with a very high blood-alcohol content should be forced to use the interlock devices.

On a national level, it might not go ahead anyway

Regardless of the support from MADD and the opposition from the ABI, the new Senate highway bill might not even see the light of day for some time to come. The reason? Money, of course; the Senate bill provides $109 billion for highway and public transit system programs over the next two years. Perhaps unfortunately, Congress would prefer a five-year deal, even though they can’t agree on how such a bill would be financed.

As things stand, the current highway funding program expires at the end of March. The most likely outcome in the immediate future will be a short-term extension, and that kind of agreement is unlikely to delve into areas as controversial as alcohol detection systems.

Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon lawmakers are to be congratulated for taking a strong stand against drunk driving. Too many people have been injured, maimed, crippled and killed by foolish drivers who thought it was ok to get behind the wheel of a powerful motor vehicle after having a few drinks. Emotional and financial devastation are frequently two of the after-effects for victims’ families. If you or someone you love has been injured by a DUII driver, that person should be held accountable and made to pay for their selfish and stupid actions. Contact a determined, experienced Portland drunk driver attorney as soon as you feel up to it. They will fight very hard to hold the person who injured you or a member of your family responsible, and they will see to it that you get the compensation you deserve.