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The ignition interlock law promotes more than road safety

A bill signed by Governor Jay Nixon in 2015 is aimed at keeping more drunk drivers off the roads in Missouri. However, it has a second purpose: to help people who have drinking problems turn their lives around.

The bill puts teeth in the existing ignition interlock law, which needed a boost to make it more effective.

Driving under the original law

In Missouri, anyone convicted of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content level of .08 percent or higher is required to have an ignition interlock device, or IID, installed in his or her vehicle for at least six months. If the IID is tampered with, or if the driver fails a breathalyzer test that is part of the ignition interlock system, the device must remain on the car for another six months. In the existing law, no additional interlock time was tacked on once the second six-month period was completed, no matter how many failed breath tests were made during that time, or how often the driver tried to “trick” the device.

Understanding the new bill

If the IID shows that the .08 percent limit has been exceeded at any time during the last three months of the driver’s probationary period, the device must remain in the vehicle for another three months—and another three months after that if necessary, and so on. While the objective is to keep drunk drivers off the road, the three-month structure is geared to identify drivers who have an obvious problem abstaining, even when they get behind the wheel. These are people who need help to get away from their alcohol involvement and get their lives back together.

Fighting DUI in Missouri

While the new bill toughens drunk driving laws in Missouri and encourages help for those who need it, people still continue to be charged with DUI. Along with the possibility of IID installation, there are other stiff penalties to face, plus questions about driving privileges and the overall impact on a driver's life that this kind of legal entanglement might have. Drivers do not have to deal with a DUI charge alone. An experienced criminal defense attorney will provide support and work toward the best possible outcome.

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