The law was initially proposed by State Rep. Mark Formby who recently lost his five-year-old niece in a drunk driving accident. In April, Formby pushed for a new law which would mandate the use of ignition interlock devices for those defendants who have had previous DUI convictions.
Formby says that he cannot help but think about how different his family’s life would be had the law been in effect prior to his niece’s death. Formby says in an attempt to spare other families the same pain he endured, he became an avid advocate for the ignition interlock devices which are designed to keep an impaired driving from turning on a car.
The ignition interlock system works by taking random samples before and even after a vehicle’s ignition is started. The purpose of the samples is to prevent someone other than the driver from providing a clean breath sample. If the breath sample is not provided, or the sample that is given exceeds the ignition interlock’s present BAC level, the device will make note of the event, warn the driver and then set off an alarm until the ignition is turned off, or a clean breath sample is provided. Many people mistakenly believe that the ignition interlock devices simply turn off an engine when alcohol is detected. That’s not true, thankfully, as this could cause a whole host of other driving safety issues.
Formby’s legislation was passed by both houses of the Mississippi legislature and was signed into effect by the Governor. It is scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of July and will ensure that repeat offenders who want their driving privileges back must accept having an ignition interlock device installed. Not only that, but the law will give judges the chance to mandate the installation of the device even for first-time offenders.
The new law specifically states that when someone is convicted for a first-offense DUI, the person’s driver’s license could be suspended for 90 days, or a judge could order a 30-day license suspension and require the person to use an ignition interlock device for six months.
The American Beverage Institute has come out against the new measure, saying that the mandated ignition interlock devices are too harsh a punishment for first-time offenders. The group says that many people mistakenly consume more alcohol than they should and that these people should not be punished with such a punitive measure.
Beyond addressing ignition interlock devices, the bill also contains language which states that a fourth DUI offense would automatically be a felony and carry between 2 and 10 years in prison, regardless of the amount of time that passed between the previous convictions. Currently, a driver in Mississippi only faces a felony if they have had three or more DUI convictions within five years.
If you’ve been involved in something that requires the skill of an experienced Mississippi criminal defense lawyer, please contact us today.
Source: “Ignition interlock devices mean tougher DUI laws in MS,” by Hannah Moseley, published at WLOX.com.