Texas Legalizes Ignition Interlocks in DWI Cases

A new law has gone into the Texas books this summer, and it’s one that should make a hefty dent in the number of DWI car accidents and fatalities suffered on Dallas roads every year.

It’s called HB 2246, and it’s a law that makes it nearly impossible for previously convicted DWI offenders to make a repeat mistake. Specifically? It requires something called an “ignition interlock device” to be placed on the cars of first-time DWI offenders.

How the Ignition Interlock Works

Technically called a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (or BAAID), an ignition interlock will not allow a driver to operate their vehicle if their blood alcohol level hits a certain amount – usually about .02 percent (one drink). It is usually installed in the glove compartment on the passenger side and connected with the internal ignition system of the car.

When a driver gets in their car, they must blow air into a handheld unit, designed to identify the presence of alcohol. This is usually stored on the dashboard of the car. If their BAC is determined to be too high, the device will sound an alarm, the lights will flash and the horn will honk. This will not stop until the key is taken out of the vehicle and the car is turned off. If the driver’s BAC is safe, the car will operate normally, and they will be free to drive as usual.

Ignition interlock devices require monthly maintenance, and they store pass/fail data from all tests taken over the course of their installation. The data also shows whether the driver failed to take a test when turning on the vehicle or if they attempted to roll the vehicle while in neutral.

These devices also come with certain amounts of costs. Offenders will typically pay between $100 to $200 for installation, up to $100 per month in monthly charges and a $25 application fee. If any violations are made, there are penalty fees as well.

Ignition Interlocks and DWIs

The ignition interlock device is technically an option for first-time DWI offenders, but the alternative is having your license revoked for more than a year. In the long run, it’s likely that very few drivers are going to opt for that route – especially if they have jobs or school to get to and from every day.

DWI offenders must have the device on their vehicle for 90 days up to a year, depending on the severity of their charge and their blood alcohol level.

Though originally the bill was intended to focus on repeat offenders and more severe DWI convictions, the bill was changed by the Texas State House of Representatives along the way. Anti drinking-and-driving organizations like MADD are still pleased with the passage of the new law, however, as many states – New Mexico and Oregon included – have seen significant drops in drunk driving accidents and fatalities since passing similar laws. Some have even seen decreases as high as 40 percent or more!

DWI Car Accidents Will Still Happen

Despite the passage of HB 2246, DWI car accidents and fatalities will continue to happen on Dallas roads. Previous DWI offenders will operate other vehicles and find ways around the system, and still others will make poor decisions and get behind the wheel of their own car after drinking.

If you or a loved one is ever hit or involved in a DWI car accident with one of these stubborn drivers, contact a DWI car accident attorney at Franklin Law Firm as soon as possible. Our expert team can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

Related Articles