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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Alcohol-Ignition Interlock Bills Passed in Seven States

MADD Works Tirelessly to Keep Nation's Roads Safe

A fundamental key to the success of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving is the Legislative progress. MADD affiliates continue to support lifesaving bills and laws in other states, but substantial strides have been made in these states:

Washington: House Bill 3254, which requires alcohol ignition interlocks for all drunk driving convictions, including first-time offenses, was signed by Governor Christine Gregoire into law. Representative Roger Goodman sponsored the bill. Washington is the fifth state to pass a full first- offense interlock law.

Nebraska: Legislative Bill 736, which requires the installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device for both first- and second-offense drunk drivers, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on a vote of 44 to 0. The bill was signed into law by Governor Dave Heineman during a private ceremony. It forces license revocations, followed by an alcohol ignition interlock restricted license period of 120 days for first-time offenders and 245 days for second-time offenders, or first-time offenders with a .15 or above blood alcohol content (BAC). Nebraska is the sixth state to pass a first-offense .08 interlock law.

West Virginia: MADD National President Glynn Birch attended the Senate Bill 535 signing ceremony when Governor Joe Manchin signed it into law. The legislation enacted an aggravated drunk driving statute for those who at time of arrest have a BAC over 0.15. The law demands ignition interlocks for all first-time aggravated drunk driving offenders, and for any convictions after the first. Furthermore, the law will offer strong incentives for first-time convictions with a BAC between .08 and .15 to install interlocks in their vehicles.

Virginia: The Legislature passed H.B. 1442 into law, requiring convicted drunk drivers who violate the conditions of restricted licenses to install alcohol ignition interlock on their vehicles. It is anticipated that the bill will reduce repeat offenses and should be an important step toward saving lives.

California: California is contemplating a first-offender interlock bill. Assembly Member Mike Feuer sponsored the bill and hosted a news conference with MADD, Los Angeles Mayer Antonio Villaraigosa, and the California Highway Patrol on the day after the bill passed through the Assembly Committee for Public Safety.

Colorado: House Bill 1194 was unanimously passed by the Colorado House Judiciary Committee. Instead of having their licenses suspended, the bill offers a strong incentive for first-time offenders to drive with alcohol ignition interlocks for eight months. Sponsored by Representative Joel Judd and Senator Jennifer Veiga, the bill is expected to go to the full House for a vote soon. The indefatigable MADD supporters have been working statewide to increase support for the bill.

Florida: Two alcohol ignition interlocks measures are moving through Florida’s Legislature: House Bill 369, sponsored by Representative David Simmons, and Senate Bill 456, sponsored by Senator Stephen Wise. Both require a period of alcohol ignition interlock installation for all high BAC and repeat offenders. After passing, this legislation will be named for a young victim of a repeat offender, and known as the Grace Redgate Act. Although both bills have received major attention, MADD continues to work with the bill sponsors to ensure that the legislation moves forward.

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