Proposed Wisconsin bill addresses loopholes in ignition interlock law

A new bill has been proposed in the Wisconsin legislature that would address loopholes in the state’s ignition interlock device regulations.

Every year in Wisconsin, numerous people are convicted of drunk driving charges. Depending on the circumstances leading to their arrests, they may be required to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. These devices may curb future drunk driving, but may also seriously limit a person's freedom.

Drunk driving appears to be a problem in Wisconsin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.9 percent of drivers nationwide have reported driving after having had too much to drink. In comparison, 3.1 percent of drivers have reported the same in Wisconsin. To address this issue, there have been changes to drunk driving laws. One recent proposal would affect several aspects regarding ignition interlock devices.

What is an interlock ignition device?

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlock devices are small pieces of machinery that are wired into a car's ignition system and measure alcohol content in a person's breath. Drivers are required to blow into the device when they want to start their vehicle. There must be no alcohol registering in their breath to allow the car to start. Supporters of the device say that it is an effective way to allow people to get to and from work without allowing them to drive while intoxicated.

Bill addresses issues with Wisconsin ignition interlock device law

Recently, reported, a new bill was introduced to the Wisconsin State Assembly concerning numerous loopholes in the state's current ignition interlock device regulations. Those with repeat convictions or a blood alcohol content of 1.5 percent or higher are required to have the devices installed at their expense. Even so, many have learned ways to circumvent the devices on their vehicles. For example, a person may drive someone else's car or have another person blow into the machine. The revised law would link the interlock device order with a person's driver's license, rather than his or her vehicle.

Additionally, the proposed bill would make it a criminal offense, rather than a citation, to circumvent the ignition interlock device. Authorities estimate about 70 percent of those with OWI records continue to drive illegally.

Costly penalties

Drunk driving penalties are often severe even without an ignition interlock device order. They may include fines, participation in an alcohol treatment program and jail time.

Can this proposed bill help change Wisconsin's status as the state with the highest drunk driving rate? The answer may not be apparent for quite some time. However, the fact remains that everyone deserves the right to be treated fairly in court, regardless of their charges. If you are fighting drunk driving charges, you will need to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney.

To speak with the lawyers at Melowski & Associates, LLC., contact our Sheboygan office by calling our law firm at 920-299-5074.