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Ignition interlocks and first-time offenders

Many states have passed legislation that requires first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. In April, Maryland became the 26th state to enact such a law, and other states such as California, Massachusetts and North Carolina are considering this type of legislation. Georgia requires such a device only after the second offense, however.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, some states with these first-offender laws have seen drunk driving fatalities decrease by upwards of 40 percent. The organization also claims that these laws have prevented at least 1.7 attempts to drive while impaired by alcohol.

When the interlock device is installed on a vehicle, the driver must first breathe a sample into the mechanism, which is similar to a Breathalyzer. If the driver's breath sample registers more than zero, the vehicle will not start. Prior to the law being enacted in Maryland, those first-time offenders who were required to use the devices had to have a BAC of .15 or more. MADD believes that these laws are important, because one-third of DUI convictions go to repeat offenders.

In Georgia, those accused of drunk driving, even for the first time, face a number of penalties if convicted. These could include fines and jail time in addition to a suspension of their driving privileges. As such, people in this position may want to have legal representation in fighting the charges. One tactic a criminal defense attorney might employ is to challenge the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest as not being made with probable cause.

Source: Cars, "26 States Now Mandate Ignition Interlocks for First-Time DUI Offenders", Matt Schmitz, April 13, 2016

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