One of the most progressive pieces of impaired driving legislation is working its way through the State Legislature this session. It is receiving bipartisan and positive support from law enforcement, advocacy groups and the defense bar, including GRL Law. See KCCI story.
The new proposal would require more ignition interlock devices in vehicles of individuals who's driving privileges were disqualified for operating while intoxicated offenses. Currently, a small exception exists for individuals facing their first offense, who were not involved in an accident, and whose test result was between a .08 and .10. The proposed legislation would remove this exception and would require all individuals under suspension for operating while intoxicated offenses to install an ignition interlock device as a condition of their Temporary Restricted License or “work permit.” The proposed legislation is a part of the Iowa Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety's efforts to beef up the technology that will accompany those devices.
The most important and progressive part of the legislation however is the removal of driving restrictions and hard suspensions for offenders so long as the driver has an ignition interlock installed in the vehicle of operation. The proposal would remove all hard suspensions that drivers now face for tests in excess of .150 on first offenses (30 days), test refusals (90 days) and test failures on second offenses (45 days). Just as important, the proposal removes restrictions on locations and purposes of driving that have proven themselves to be impractical in many situations. Thus, if this bill passes, hard suspensions would be removed and restrictions on where someone could drive on a Temporary Restricted License would also be removed. The only requirement to obtain a Temporary Restricted License would be proof of SR-22 insurance and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
This legislation is progressive because for years, advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been encouraging State’s to find ways to get more ignition interlocks in the vehicles of individuals committing operating while intoxicated offenses. Their research has shown that the harsh license suspension punishments, especially those mandating hard suspensions and driving restrictions, result in a greater number of people driving illegally due to the needs of maintaining employment and family obligations. In those situations, the drivers are not insured, nor are there proper tools in place to ensure the driver’s sobriety. Groups like MADD have been advocating for years to remove the restrictions so long as ignition interlock devices are required because the use of ignition interlock devices by first time offenders has been showed to have positive behavior modification consequences which reduces recidivism.
Ultimately, this legislation is receiving bipartisan support and support from those involved on both sides of operating while intoxicated offenses. GRL Law has for years, been active in supporting legislation that removes hard suspensions and restrictions on driving for individuals enduring operating while intoxicated license revocations. In a political climate where negativity seems to be a continuing theme, it is refreshing to see the system work the way it was intended. Those with specialized knowledge regarding these issues, identified a problem and worked together to find a positive solution that benefits everyone. This is how the political system was designed to work and GRL Law is proud to be a part of it.