DWI offenders could forgo driver’s license suspension

Convicted DWI offenders may be able to regain some of their lost driving privileges by having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles.

People who are convicted of driving while intoxicated run the risk of losing their driver's licenses for a considerable period of time. Even first-time offenders may have their driver's licenses suspended for up to a year, according to Texas statutes. During that time, it can be difficult for offenders to find transportation to work, school, doctors' appointments and to run other necessary errands. A new law, however, may help convicted DUI offenders get back out on the road sooner than expected.

Rather than have their driver's licenses suspended, some DWI offenders can now choose to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles instead. According to The Dallas Morning News, the new legislation applies to offenders who are convicted with a blood alcohol content level measuring less than .15 percent. Drivers who have a BAC level of .15 percent or higher were already required to have an interlock device installed in their vehicles prior to the new law.

What are ignition interlock devices?

IIDs are mobile breath test machines that are designed to keep motorists from driving while intoxicated. In order to start the car and keep it going, drivers must blow into a tube connected to the device. The machine then determines the driver's BAC level, and will lockup if the results read higher than a preset limit. Once the car is going, the driver must continue to submit random breath tests to ensure that they are sober. If a breath test is missed, an alarm sounds and the driver is given a brief moment to pull over and turn off the car.

Any information, including attempted startups, missed breath tests or lockouts, are stored in the device. The data is then transferred to state officials during the monthly maintenance appointment.

How are IIDs helpful?

Not only do ignition interlock devices help to restore people's driving privileges after they have been convicted of a DWI, but IIDs prevent drivers from committing subsequent offenses. The more DWI offenses a driver has on his or her record, the harder it can be to find a job in certain fields, get approved for certain types of loans or even qualify for a professional license. Drivers with an interlock device installed on their vehicles are less likely to drink and drive again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IIDs reduce the drunk driver recidivism rate by up to 67 percent.

Legal assistance may be necessary

Whether you are facing DWI charges for the first time, or you have had previous drinking and driving offenses, you may want to speak with an attorney in Texas regarding your legal options. A lawyer can look at the details of the incident, and may be able to formulate a strong defense in your case.