A bill that would require all those convicted of DUI in Florida – including first timers – to have ignition interlock devices installed has successfully made it through its first hurdle in the state House of Representatives. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved House Bill 949 by a unanimous vote of 10-0.
Now, the measure has to be approved by two more committees before it is debated by the full House. In the coming weeks, the measure will be weighed by the Judiciary Committee. From there, it will need approval from the Government Accountability Committee.
Florida statute at this time does not automatically require ignition interlocks for first-time offenders caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Instead, F.S. 315.1937 and F.S. 322.2715 hold that a first-time offender may be required to have the device installed, but only if:
- His/ her blood-alcohol level exceeded 0.15 (nearly double the legal limit of 0.08);
- Was accompanied at the time of the offense by a person under the age of 18.
In those cases, ignition interlock devices will be required for at least six months. The devices may also be required to help prevent drunk driving among those who have at least one prior conviction for DUI. In cases where the offender has at least one prior conviction, the ignition interlock device must be installed for at least one full year. In the case of someone who has three convictions for DUI within a 10-year time frame, the law requires ignition interlock be installed for at least two continues years. A person with a fourth or subsequent offense will require an ignition interlock for at least five years.
Ignition interlock devices, for those who may be unfamiliar, are devices installed on a vehicle that will not allow the vehicle to start unless and until the operator blows into the device and registers a breath-alcohol concentration level of less than 0.025 percent (or as otherwise specified by the court).
The new legislation, if passed, would create an incentive for first-time DUI offenders to opt-in to use of an ignition interlock device. Specifically, in exchange for wiping clean their criminal history or sealing their DUI records, they would have to use the ignition interlock device for six months. A sealed criminal history means they would not need to report this information on future employment applications. Law enforcement agencies would have access to such information. If the person is arrested on a second DUI offense, the first offense would show up on their record.
Although our Fort Myers DUI injury lawyers are pleased the legislature is taking a closer look at this important issue, there are concerns that allowing first time offenders to conceal this history from employers may mean that even relatively recent offenders may be able to land jobs in fields like commercial trucking, where that kind of background would be relevant. There is a public interest in making these offenses known.
As it now stands, there are approximately 9,000 ignition interlock devices in use in Florida, costing offenders an average of $3 daily.
If this bill passes, Florida would join the roster of 28 other states plus D.S. that have laws very similar.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Florida DUI ignition interlock bill passes House committee, March 21, 2017, By Francesca Amiker, News4Jax
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