New law will change how first-time DUI offenders are punished

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A new law set to go into effect next month will change the way first-time DUI offenders are punished in Pennsylvania.

The new law will require first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol level higher than .10 to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle.

The law signed last year will go into effect on Aug. 25.

Under the new law, most first-time offenders would be eligible to drive with the ignition interlock immediately. Otherwise, they would have to have their driver’s license suspended for a year before installing the interlock device for 12 months.

Those who are eligible can petition PennDOT for a new Ignition Interlock Limited License, allowing them to install the device for one year and continue to drive.

“Not only is it going to make our highways safer, but the individual will be able to get that ignition interlock right away. They’re going to be able to go to work,” said Eileen Lee, director of Ignition Interlock Quality Assurance at the Pennsylvania DUI Association.

Lee says the interlock system is more effective than a driver’s license suspension.

“It will also allow them to change that behavior of drinking and driving, so lives will be saved,” she said.

The law will also apply to drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing. They will be eligible for early interlock after six months.

Gov. Tom Wolf also recently approved the law applying to people in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which allows some first offenders to have shorter license suspensions.

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