House panel advances bill aimed at curbing DUI

Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 20:01:46-05

The House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee advanced a bill aimed at curbing DUI through ignition interlock mandates Tuesday.

House Bill 551, introduced by Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, requires the use of ignition interlocks for all first-time convicted drunk drivers for one year. 

An ignition interlock is an in-vehicle breathalyzer which requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the car. Currently, ignition interlocks are only required after a second DUI conviction. 

The bill would require the convicted to cover the cost of the ignition interlock device. Leases on an interlock system are $75 a month and can cost between $80-100 for installation. 

"We can't use hope to fight drunk driving because drunk driving deaths have gone up 45 percent in Idaho in the last two years," Frank Harris, MADD Director of State Government Affairs, said. "It should be noted nationally drunk driving deaths only went up six percent." 

Idaho is one of two states without an ignition interlock provision for first-time offenders. 

"This is the catcher's mitt that will keep people safe on Idaho roads," Matthew Conde, AAA Public & Government Affairs Manager, said. 

The committee advanced HB 551 to the House floor for a vote.

A bill with a similar goal, House Bill 553, introduced by Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, requires the use of ignition interlocks for diversion agreements for first-time convicted drunk drivers for six months. Under the legislation, a person who enters a diversion interlock program must successfully complete the course before having the interlock removed. 

The committee moved to hold HB 553 in committee until Thursday. 

Burgoyne said the bills do not compete with each other. Burgoyne said under the HB 551 legislation first-time drunk drivers will be required to use the ignition interlock system even if they are not enrolled in a diversion program.