For months, lawmakers in Mississippi have been discussing changes that will make DUI laws tougher. Now, a proposed bill is being considered that would take a significant step toward making that discussion a reality. If signed into law, DUI offenders will have no choice but to use ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.
How an Ignition Interlock System Works
An ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer test that is connected to a car's ignition system. Before driving, a person must blow into the device, and it then determines his or her Blood Alcohol Concentration. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. It's impossible to remove the device, so drivers are forced not to drink and drive.
The Impact of the Bill
The biggest impact of this bill isn't the use of ignition interlock devices, but the fact that it would make them mandatory for anyone convicted of a DUI. Right now, these devices are used in numerous states throughout the U.S., but the use is typically at the discretion of the judge. This means that they're often not used when they could be. Under the new proposed law, the judge would have no choice but to order the use of the device for a predetermined length of time.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is strongly in support of the bill, and the group's Director of State Government Affairs called the bill “crucial.” Though it wouldn't prevent all drunk driving, he said it would clearly decrease the number of impaired drivers on roads and highways in Mississippi. MADD also looked at the stats from ignition interlock devices that are already in use and found that, in just 12 months, they'd stopped drivers from starting their personal vehicles around 3,000 times.
It will be interesting to see if the bill passes into law, as it does seem to have a fair amount of local support. Incidents like an accident last summer that killed a pair of students from Briarcrest High School have helped garner this support. Their vehicle was hit by a driver with multiple DUI offenses.
Though the bill hasn't passed yet, Mississippi residents need to keep an eye on the proceedings, as it could significantly change DUI sentencing guidelines, and those who are facing DUI charges need to know what ramifications are in play.
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