A bill filed in the Georgia legislature would require persons convicted of driving under the influence to install an interlock device after their first offense.
House Bill 439, sponsored by Representatives Bill Hitchens, Eddie Lumsden, Steven Sainz, Rick Williams, and Micah Gravley, was filed this week in the Georgia General Assembly, and addresses a recurring issue about how those convicted of DUI are punished. HB 439 takes an aggressive approach by requiring the installation of new equipment – an interlock ignition device – in the vehicles of drivers who are convicted.
An interlock ignition device is a mechanism installed in your vehicle designed to prevent drivers from operating the vehicle after consuming alcohol. A mouthpiece and a cord attach to the ignition system and a person blows into the device to start the car. If there is a presence of alcohol following the BAC test, the car will not start.
Under current law, there are two scenarios for which a person would obtain an ignition interlock device:
- When a person chooses to install an ignition interlock device instead of requesting an ALS hearing. This results in a 12-month order for the interlock device and occurs before the case is adjudicated in court.
- When a person is convicted of a second Georgia DUI or more within a five year period.
There are costs associated with an interlock device – both recurring and one-time – including $100-$200 for installation, a $60-$80 monthly fee, and upwards of $250 for removal, plus any maintenance costs.
Specifically, the bill would do the following:
- Following the first conviction of an alcohol-related driving under the influence offense, allow a person to apply for early reinstatement of his or her driver’s license at the end of 180 days of using a limited driving permit with the use of an ignition interlock device.
- Following the second conviction of an alcohol-related driving under the influence offense, allow a person to apply for reinstatement of his or her driver’s license after 12 months of using a limited driving permit with the use of an ignition interlock device.
- Allow the Department of Driver Services to determine if an interlock device would create an “undue financial hardship” and would subsequently be required to issue an ignition interlock device reduced fee voucher. In order to be eligible, tax documents, wage statements, and proof of receipt of any and all government benefits would need to be produced for review.
- With a reduced fee voucher, installation would be free and the monthly fee to maintain the device would be reduced.
- Classify a plea of nolo contendere, or no contest, as a conviction for the purposes of requiring interlock devices.
You can read the complete bill here.