Federal Agency: Mandate Ignition Interlock Devices for All Drunk Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a federal agency dedicated to improving motor vehicle and traffic safety. The NHTSA promotes its mission by setting safety performance standards for motor vehicles, distributing grants to state and local governments, and making recommendations to lawmaking bodies based on the agency’s research.

In December, 2012, the NHTSA made an unprecedented recommendation to state governments: require the use of ignition interlock devices by everyone convicted of a drunk driving offense, even first-time offenders. An ignition interlock device is a machine that takes and test breath samples from drivers; if the sample tests positive for alcohol, the vehicle’s engine is automatically disabled and the authorities are notified. Currently, 17 states already have laws requiring the use of ignition interlock devices by all convicted drunk drivers.

Ignition interlock is required for DUI diversion, conviction in Oregon

If you are charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants in Oregon (“DUI” or “DUII” for short), an ignition interlock could be in your future. Although a strong legal defense may help you get charges dismissed, a conviction means you’ll wind up with an ignition interlock even for a first-time offense.

Under Oregon’s DUII diversion program, you make an agreement with the court that will ultimately lead to the dismissal of your charges if you comply with the court’s orders. Typically, a diversion requirement for a first-time DUI offender lasts a year and requires you to pay fines, attend a victim impact panel, and obtain alcohol evaluation and treatment; you will also have to install an approved ignition interlock device on all the vehicles you operate.

Diversion can be expensive, and certainly takes some effort – but it also helps you avoid the risks of trial. If you are convicted at trial, you will still have to face the possibility of an ignition interlock, along with other more serious sanctions.

If you are convicted of DUII, your regular driver license will be suspended for a period of time. In order to obtain a hardship permit – which will allow you to legally drive during a period of regular license suspension in order to get to and from work, drive on the job, seek employment, get required medical treatment or participate in a substance abuse rehabilitation program – you will have to install an ignition interlock on any vehicles you drive. Whether or not you pursue a hardship permit, after your regular DUII license suspension ends, you must maintain an ignition interlock on vehicles you drive for a certain period of time: one year for first-time offenses, two years for second and subsequent offenses.

Defend against DUI charges by contacting an attorney

If you have been charged with drunk driving in Oregon, the only way to completely eliminate the possibility of an ignition interlock is to get your charges dropped. Talk to a DUII defense attorney today to explore your legal options.