New DUI Law Takes Effect in Idaho
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – First-time DUI offenders in Idaho will now have to install an ignition locking device on their vehicles.
The new law was passed during the last Legislative session and went into effect Jan. 1.
How it works: Before getting behind the wheel, the offender is required to blow into a mouthpiece, which will alert the device if the driver is sober or inebriated. If inebriated, the vehicle will not start.
The device also tests the driver randomly while on the road, Matthew Conde, director of government and public affairs for AAA Idaho, told News Radio 1310. The vehicle will not shut down if the device detects that the driver has been consuming alcohol, but it will send a report to the offender’s probation officer.
The technology is not new, he said, but it has gotten better. Some devices will even snap a photo of the person as he or she takes the breathalyzer test.
“It’s the wake-up call that some people might need,” Conde said. “In many cases we’re already behind in trying to prevent bad behavior, but what we can do is put a bill in place that allows people to rethink their behavior.”
Previously, only repeated DUI offenders were required to have the locking device on their vehicles, but Conde said that according to statistics offenders usually drive under the influence at least 80 times before being pulled over by a law officer.
They don’t have that luxury now. First-time offenders will have the device installed, at their own expense, for one year on their vehicle. He said that’s an important period for the offender.
“A number of individuals have a bad relationship with alcohol,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want life to go on for everybody. We want the person who has made a mistake to have the chance to fix their mistake, to be able to still go to work or school and still be an effective member of society. This is a fair solution that helps keep everyone safe.”
The bill, dubbed House Bill 551, was sponsored by Rep. Melissa Wintrow and Sen. Grant Burgoyne, both Democrats from Boise. The reason the law took effect this month instead of last July was because the Idaho Transportation Department was at that time upgrading software for its statewide computer system.
While the locking device is not a new concept, Conde said making it apply to first-time offenders is new for Idaho. He is hopeful that it will help decrease the number of drunk driving incidences on Idaho roads.
“It’s the wake-up call that some people might need,” says Matthew Conde, director of government and public affairs for AAA Idaho. “In many cases we’re already behind in trying to prevent bad behavior, but what we can do is put a bill in place that allows people to rethink their behavior.”
According to statistics, 8,100 people were charged in 2016 in Idaho for driving under the influence, Conde said, with a 92 percent conviction rate.
Idaho is the 30th state to pass legislation of this kind.
“If nothing else this is a wake-up call, which can be a powerful thing,” he said, “especially for young people who have their whole life in front of them. This could help prevent them from drinking and driving and help them to be able to live long and productive lives.”