– Rep. Keith J. Greiner (R-Lancaster) today announced that he has introduced legislation that would make the ignition interlock program mandatory for certain first-time DUI offenders and, in those cases where the interlock program is applied, reduce driver’s license suspension requirements.
“This legislation would increase public safety by preventing those who have shown poor judgment by drinking and driving in the past from driving under the influence again,” Greiner said. “At the same time, this legislation would rehabilitate rather than punish first-time offenders by allowing them to keep their licenses on the condition that they submit to the ignition interlock program.”
Ignition interlock is a device installed on the steering column of a motor vehicle to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Individuals are required to blow into the device, and if it detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start.
Pennsylvania law currently makes ignition interlocks mandatory for repeat offenders. Greiner’s legislation, House Bill 278
, would extend the program to include first-time offenders.
Research shows that there are more than 30,000 first-time DUI offenders each year, and a substantial number of those offenders violate terms of their license suspension and become repeat offenders. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing recidivism rates by 67 percent. And in the 15 states that have enacted similar laws requiring ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, drunk driving deaths have declined by as much as 45 percent.
More than 30 percent of traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania are alcohol related. One such tragedy occurred in Lancaster County last year involving Meredith Demko, an 18-year-old high school student who was killed by a drunk driver. Greiner said that that incident inspired him to introduce this legislation.
“DUI-related tragedies are far too common across the Commonwealth,” Greiner said. “It is my hope that this important legislation will prevent such tragedies from happening and ultimately save lives.”
Likewise, State Sen. John Rafferty (R-44) sponsored Senate Bill 290, which would also make ignition interlock requirements mandatory for certain first-time offenders with high blood alcohol levels.
Representative Keith J. Greiner, CPA
43rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jonathan Anzur