Should someone charged with DUI get to drive without an ignition interlock?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2023 | Car Accidents

In Alabama, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But this refers only to criminal law, not civil matters like your driving privileges.

For example, someone charged with drunk driving who is participating in an Alabama court’s pretrial diversion program must install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. An ignition interlock attaches to the ignition and requires the driver to blow into it. If the device detects alcohol on the user’s breath, it won’t let them start the engine. The idea is to prevent the user from driving drunk.

This rule might seem to make a lot of sense for people with an alleged history of drinking and driving. But the ignition interlock requirement is scheduled to expire in July. And instead of renewing it, many lawmakers in the state Legislature are seeking to end the policy entirely.

Leaving it up to the judge instead

A bill that recently made it out of committee would end the automatic requirement for an ignition interlock if a DUI defendant wishes to participate in pretrial diversion. Instead, the bill’s supporters say, it should be left up to the judge in each individual case whether to impose a device as part of the pretrial diversion program.

Drunk driving: a negligent decision

Anti-drunk driving groups predict that this bill would increase serious injuries and deaths in DUI car accidents on Alabama roads and highways. This could be true, but even if the bill does not pass, drunk drivers will still be a menace. Victims or their next of kin could face huge medical bills, lost wages and other damages because of a drunk driver’s irresponsible and negligent choice.

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