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New bill would require interlock for all convicted of OWI charges

Ignition interlocks are devices installed on the vehicles of people who have been convicted of drunk driving in Iowa or other locations in the nation. The device essentially requires drivers to check their blood alcohol content before their vehicles will start. In the past, the installation of these devices was based on the number of times someone faced OWI charges and the blood-alcohol concentration level. However, a bill has been introduced in the state legislation that would make the interlocks a requirement for anyone convicted of drunk driving.

Currently, if a person's blood-alcohol is between .08 and .10 percent, the installation of an interlock device is not mandatory if it is a first offense. Another criteria was that the driver could not be involved in an accident. A member of the state House Judiciary Committee recognizes that, with the current law, a relatively low number of convicted drunk drivers don't have to install a device.

A concern about the proposed bill is that those drivers with lower incomes will have difficulty paying for the devices. An indigent fund to cover the cost for those struggling financially was suggested. However, critics were quick to point out that taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for the interlocks. Iowa is one of 20 states that does not require every person convicted of drunk driving to install an interlock device.

The installation of an ignition interlock is just one consequence of a conviction of OWI charges in Iowa. A person's license may be revoked, fines may be imposed, and there is a possibility that jail time must be served. A trusted criminal defense lawyer can work with clients to build a case that will minimize the disruptions to their lives.

Source:, "Iowa's ignition interlock law would become more strict under bill in Iowa House", Kathy A. Bolten, Jan. 30, 2018

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