A new law that went into effect in West Virginia last week will give drunk driving offenders in the state the option to get back on the road sooner by installing a car breathalyzer in lieu of a license suspension. While all convicted drunk drivers in West Virginia are already required to install a car breathalyzer, or ignition interlock, in their vehicles, they cannot install the device right away. Depending on their number of prior DUI convictions, DUI offenders face a driver’s license suspension for a certain period of time. Offenders can’t install the breathalyzer and receive limited driving privileges until that suspension period ends.
Previously, drunk drivers in the state could contest a driver’s license suspension at their court hearing. Under the new law, drunk driving offenders who forgo that hearing can install the car breathalyzer right away. Offenders must keep the device installed for the license suspension time period they would have had in addition to the regular installation period. These time periods are based on a DUI offender’s prior convictions and other factors, such as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher at the time of arrest.
West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale explained to WCHS ABC 8 that getting DUI offenders in the system and back on the road as soon as possible is important, as one of the prerequisites for interlock installation is to participate in a safety and treatment program. Without a driver’s license, participation can be difficult for some offenders. It also leaves the door open for DUI offenders to drive without a license. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), three out of four DUI offenders continue to drive on a suspended license. Dale reports that it’s no different In West Virginia.
By installing a breathalyzer right away, drunk driving offenders can get the treatment they need and remain productive citizens without harming themselves or others on the road.
Car Breathalyzer Help applauds West Virginia for continuing to experiment with interlocks even after requiring them for all convicted drunk drivers. We already know that car breathalyzers significantly reduce drunk driving fatalities and repeat drunk driving arrests, especially when required for all convicted drunk drivers. But as long as drunk driving continues, there’s always room for improvement. We hope other states with all-offender interlock laws continue searching for the best ways to fully utilize ignition interlocks and reduce drunk driving and related fatalities even further.