For Alabama drivers who are arrested for driving under the influence, there is understandable fear about the penalties for a conviction and how they will impact their future. Among the obvious consequences can be jail time, fines and a loss of driving privileges.
Another is the requirement that the driver have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. To start the vehicle, the driver will need to blow into the machine like a breathalyzer test law enforcement officers use to determine blood alcohol concentration.
Recently, lawmakers have been debating a change to how ignition interlock devices are used. This could be important for drivers who have been charged and are facing the possibility that the device will be ordered.
If the law changes, judges would have greater discretion
As it currently stands, the law requires there be an ignition interlock device placed on a driver’s vehicle if they are taking part in a pretrial diversion program. The law was set to sunset in July if it was not renewed. A bill would have extended it, but it was changed to end it completely.
According to lawmakers who support changing the law, judges are in a better position to know whether this option is appropriate and no law should require they order the ignition interlock device.
Some are opposed to the change. A representative for Responsibility.org has expressed fear as to what will happen if this is implemented. The group believes that the device is a useful tool that prevents accidents and needless injuries and fatalities.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has expressed similar sentiments. In 2022, nearly half of the orders to place interlock devices on vehicles were based on pretrial diversion. They believe that intervention for first-time DUI drivers is an effective strategy and the removal of this provision would hinder that.
Drivers should be aware of the penalties for DUI and act accordingly
When arrested for DUI, drivers will face a litany of potential consequences. One is the ignition interlock device. As this law is being debated and might be changed, it shows how lawmakers, law enforcement and the courts oversee DUI cases.
With that, it is imperative for accused drivers to have someone on their side to fight for their rights. As soon as an arrest is made, it is vital to have a strong criminal defense to try and reach a positive resolution and avoid the worst penalties whether it is part of a pretrial diversion or a DUI trial where their freedom and future are in the balance.