DUI – Motorists Face Ignition Lock Laws

In six states this week, new laws were put into effect requiring motorists convicted of DUI to install devices that monitor blood alcohol content (BAC) via a breath test. These drivers will not be able to start their cars unless the Ignition Interlock System finds that their BAC is below a certain level.

Five out of the six states mandate the breath-monitoring machine for first-time DUI offenders; the sixth state, South Carolina, requires it for repeat offenders only. Other states already have similar laws allowing judges to decide if drunk drivers are required to use the device, though judges seldom enforce them.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been a strong advocate of the law, proclaiming that it would play a large part in saving lives. However, proponents such as the American Beverage Institute see the value in the law, but don’t think it goes far enough to distinguish between drivers that have one or two drinks and those that have a large number of drinks, which could lead to excessive alcohol policies (New Ignition Lock Laws Aim to Foil Drunk Drivers).

The laws vary a bit by state and usually involve a license-suspension period. However, the end goal is the same – to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads.

Commentary from Boston Criminal Lawyer Francis T. O’Brien Jr.

Massachusetts has signigicant laws regulating installation of interlock devices. Any person who has been previously convicted of an OUI will face mandatory installation of an interlock device in the event of that they are ever convicted of operating under the influence in their lifetime. This is true even if the OUI defense lawyer is successful in having the court treat a second offender as a first offender. The Registry of Motor Vehicles acts independently of the court and will require the installation of an interlock device on the automobile on any person who has ever been convicted of an OUI.

It is criticial that a defendant in an OUI case be represented by an attorney who is familiar not only with the criminal laws governing OUI cases, but with registry ramifications as well. The decision to enter into a plea bargain on an OUI case should not be taken lightly as, once again, the regulations concenting interlock devices illustrate that OUI convictions trigger a lifetime of consequences.

Many defendants in an OUI case realize too late that they face a mandatory interlock. Any subsequent offender will be required to mantian an interlock device during the period of any hardship license, which can encompass any number of years, as well as an additional two years after the court-imposed license suspension.


Francis T. O’Brien has over twenty years experience involving a broad spectrum of criminal drug cases, including, but not limited to: Drug Trafficking, Possession of Drugs with the Intent to Distribute, possession of Class “B” Drug, and, Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws. Criminal Defense Lawyer Francis T. O’Brien, Jr. is one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Boston, and he has helped many criminal defendants avoid convictions in nearly all areas of criminal defense law.

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