The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Pa. DUI Bill May Require Ignition Interlock for 1st Offenders

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are currently only required for repeat offenders in Pennsylvania, but a new law may mandate first-time DUI offenders use these devices as well.

Political pressure from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has led to a bill that would require ignition interlocks in almost all DUI cases, with the strange result of getting more DUI offenders back on the road, Philadelphia's WHYY reports.

How might this law affect first-time DUI offenders?

Current Ignition Interlock Laws

As the law stands, Pennsylvania DUI offenders are typically ordered to install ignition interlocks only if they have been convicted of a prior DUI offense. This includes any sort of adjudicated disposition of DUI diversion program that may have let drunken drivers off the hook for a conviction if they followed a court-ordered program.

But if you are convicted as the result of your first-ever drunken driving incident, you are unlikely to receive a mandate to use an IID.

If you have been ordered to install an IID as part of your sentence, you must do so before the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will issue you a "limited license." The installation must be approved by a state-sanctioned IID vendor, and PennDOT estimates a year's lease of the device will cost about $1,200.

Pricey yes, but it is the only way for current subsequent DUI offenders to continue driving.

SB 1036 Offers More Limited Licenses, More IIDs

In its most current form, the proposed IID law (SB 1036) offers a strange mix of driving and additional restrictions. Frank Harris, the state legislative affairs manager for MADD, noted that the problem with license suspensions is that "people continue to drive without a license," WHYY reports.

Instead, the bill supports more limited licenses that require ignition interlock.

SB 1036 would also mandate that drivers continue to use IIDs without failure for 60 days to have them removed -- even if they've completed their license suspension period. Drivers won't be able to start using their IIDs right away either; they'll need to serve at least half of their sentences before limited licenses become available.

For most first time offenders, this may mean at least six months (and around $600) of using an IID before it may be removed. If you're facing a DUI charge and are worried about ignition interlock consequences, consult a DUI attorney in your area.

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