The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced it would be prioritizing a reduction of drunk driving deaths this year. One of the ways agency officials will seek to do this is by exploring mandatory driver alcohol detection systems, better known as “breathalyzers” or “interlock ignition.” These devices have been around for a while, but are usually only required by a judge following a drunk driving conviction.
In Florida, F.S. 316.193 requires interlock ignition devices be installed on vehicles of certain persons convicted of DUI. The court has the option to require installation for a first-time conviction on a DUI charge, but it isn’t mandatory unless the driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher, in which case it must be installed for at least six months. For a second conviction, it has to be installed for at least one year, or two years if the BAC was 0.15 or higher. For a third conviction, ignition interlocks are required for at least two years. For four or more convictions of DUI, where the individual is only given a hardship license, the ignition interlock has to stay on the car for at least five years.
The NHTSA recently reported that of 35,100 motor vehicle deaths in 2015, 10,300 of those (29 percent) involved a driver who was impaired by alcohol with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. Some states had higher percentages than others. In Florida, 27 percent of fatal accidents involved a driver whose blood-alcohol concentration was 0.08 or higher. Thirty-two percent involved a driver whose blood-alcohol concentration was 0.01 or higher. Although the legal limit for alcohol concentration is 0.08, anything above 0.00 could potentially be grounds for the court to find a driver was “impaired.” Continue reading