DUI first-time offenders will drive one year with ignition interlocks
HARRISBURG, PA — Today, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed SB 290, to require convicted drunk drivers with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10 or greater to use ignition interlocks for one year.
After the House voted 193-2 yesterday, the Senate today voted 50-0 in favor of SB 290 by Senator John C. Rafferty Jr. The bill will be sent to Governor Tom Wolf for his signature. Representative Keith Greiner had authored similar legislation and, along with Senator Rafferty, has been a strong advocate for extending Pennsylvania’s ignition interlock law to first offenders.
“This is a tremendous step toward eliminating the dangerous, revolving door of repeat drunk driving,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Ignition interlocks save lives by keeping convicted drunk drivers from repeating their decision to drive impaired. This legislation reflects the commitment of Senator Rafferty and Representative Greiner and the dozens of dedicated family members who worked tirelessly in honor of their loved ones lost to this completely preventable crime.”
In 2014, 345 people were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver in Pennsylvania.
“This legislation will surely save lives and prevent other families from experiencing the heartache that we face every day due to the loss of our daughter Meredith as well as thousands of other families like ours who have lost a loved one to DUI,” said Chris and Susan Demko. “We appreciate everything that MADD has done to keep this legislation on the radar for several years and wish to thank Senator Rafferty, Representative Greiner and Senator Smucker for their efforts to make Pennsylvanians safer, as well as the other legislators that took an active role to help move this bill forward. We personally and as members of PA Parents Against Impaired Driving (papaid.org) ask that PA legislators move forward with additional legislation that addresses repeat offenders as well as increasing penalties for the worst offenders.”
In February, MADD released a report showing how many times ignition interlocks have stopped someone from driving drunk. The numbers are startling: Across the nation, ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million drunk driving attempts.
In Pennsylvania, where ignition interlocks have been required only for repeat offenders, ignition interlocks have stopped 78,210 attempts to drive drunk.
“Senate Bill 290 received overwhelming support from my colleagues in the Senate and the House, which demonstrates the significance of ignition interlocks for most first-time DUI offenders”, said Senator Rafferty, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and primary bill sponsor. “The enactment of Senate Bill 290 is smart on crime and will strengthen our DUI laws, save lives and place offenders in a controlled driving environment.”
Representative Greiner said he was glad to have the opportunity to work with MADD, Senator Rafferty and other community leaders on this legislation.
“Ignition interlocks are going to save lives across the Commonwealth and make our roadways safer,” said Representative Greiner. “It was truly a team effort. The overwhelming support for this legislation in the General Assembly demonstrates how successful advocacy efforts can be. I remain committed to fighting for additional legislative efforts to curb drunk driving.”
If the Governor signs SB 290, Idaho and Massachusetts will be the only two states left that do not have some form of ignition interlock law for first offenders. Last month, Georgia expanded its ignition interlock law as an option for first offenders.
Twenty-five states have laws considered “all-offender” by MADD — they require an ignition interlock for any offender with a .08 BAC or above to receive driving privileges during their license suspension period. On Thursday, Maryland will become the 26th state with this law. Vermont’s General Assembly passed an all-offender law on May 6 that awaits Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature, bringing the total to 27.
Across the nation, several other states have similar legislation pending, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan and California.
For more information on ignition interlocks, please visit http://www.madd.org/interlock.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD changed American culture by introducing the “designated driver” in 1986 and related red ribbon awareness campaign Tie One On For Safety® now in its 30th year. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is marking its 10th anniversary and reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent since its launch. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, providing a service every four minutes through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Power of Parents® and Power of Youth® programs reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.
MADD Press Release