A recent bill has been unanimously passed in the state of Nevada that will soon require the mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock System (sometimes referred to as an IIS) in the vehicles of anyone convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. This will be the procedure for even first-time DUI offenders who are pulled over and found to be over the .08 blood alcohol content limit, in addition to those who are repeat offenders who register a BAC well over the legal limit. While it’s difficult to deny that safer roads are something in the best interest of everyone, this approach is rightfully viewed with some degree of concern by those who feel that the blanket approach to this issue is perhaps too steep for some and actually overlooks rehabilitative options for others who would benefit from them. Here’s what you need to know about Nevada Senate Bill 259.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Mark Manendo, was created with the intention of revising the existing DUI laws in Nevada. These are the changes that have been made from the prior DUI laws to updated versions that now heavily favor the mandatory use of ignition interlock technology. The most noteworthy changes include the revocation period of a DUI offender’s license upon arrest and the much more immediate use of an ignition interlock system for any DUI offense, even first-time offenses.
Here are the former laws compared to the new laws under NV SB 259:
Driver’s License Revocation Period
- Former Law – A DUI arrest would immediately result in a revocation of your driver’s license for 90 days.
- New SB 259 Law – If arrested for a DUI, offenders will now be given either a license revocation of 185 days or will be given the opportunity to opt for the installation of an ignition interlock system and a restricted license that will be notated to show that they are only allowed to be operating vehicles with the ignition interlock system installed.
Ignition Interlock System For All Offenses
- Former Law – Misdemeanor DUI arrests in which the blood alcohol concentration of the offender is very high or the DUI is a felony-level arrest would require the use of an ignition interlock system mandated by the court.
- New SB 259 Law – DUI offenders of any level will be required to install and use an ignition interlock system if they wish to retain any legal right to drive, and their license will be notated to allow only for the operation of vehicles with the interlock system.
The new law, Senate Bill 259, which will go into effect on October 1, 2018, will make Nevada the 30th state to approve the requirement of ignition interlock technology as a response to all DUI offenses.
A Little too Good to be True?
As positive as these changes may be in many regards, the new laws and the ignition interlock devices are not necessarily the perfect answer to the very real concerns regarding drivers who are making the decision to drive under the influence in the first place.
Drivers Can Opt-Out of the Ignition Interlock System
One potential flaw that has drawn the attention of those who remain skeptical that this plan is foolproof involves the choice that is still available to DUI offenders to forgo the option of a restricted license and the ignition interlock system entirely. While the intention of this would theoretically be to give up any driving privileges for the legally required time, making an ignition interlock system unnecessary, realistically this can simply provide offenders with a loophole that would allow them to continue their illegal behavior regardless of these restrictions.
Punishing the Lesser Offenses While Ignoring Larger Issues of Addiction
One of the very valid arguments against this new mandatory, one size fits all approach to the control of drinking and driving has even been acknowledged by the former president of Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The MADD organization has been the driving force behind the push toward wider and mandatory use of the ignition interlock system, but former president Katherine Prescott herself has said that the issue of drunk driving has been reduced to “a hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeal”. Using mandatory ignition interlocks to punish first-time DUI offenders with a very low BAC puts them on the level with repeat offenders who will more realistically require a different approach, which does less to solve the issue of serious drunk driving accidents than proponents of the bill would have us believe.
The fairness of penalizing first-time offenders with a very low BAC on the same level as repeat DUI offenders through the use of expensive, unreliable, and sometimes even faulty ignition interlock devices is not something that everyone is readily willing to accept. This approach also removes the power of qualified judges to make their own, more well-informed decisions on a case by case basis, forcing them to apply the same blanket penalty to drivers who may have had one or two drinks on one occasion, placing them right at the legal BAC limit and to drivers who have a serious and treatment worthy alcohol addiction and were well over the legal BAC limit. Given this, we feel that the new SB 259 law is one that is not a good solution for Nevada residents, and it is one we are ready and willing to fight.