The State Senate today gave final approval to legislation sponsored by Senator John Rafferty (R-44) that would require most first-time offenders of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to install ignition interlocks on their vehicle for at least one year.
The Senate unanimously concurred with amendments added in the House of Representatives and sent the bill to the governor for his consideration.
In 2014, there were approximately 10,500 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania that resulted in 333 deaths according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Senate Bill 290 would require convicted first-time offenders with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.10 percent or higher to use ignition interlocks for at least 12 months. Under current law, the requirement applies only to second and subsequent offenders.
Rafferty, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said today is a historic day in the Commonwealth since this measure will save lives by preventing repeat drunk driving attempts. The installation of ignition interlocks will allow drivers to use their vehicles for work, school and other purposes in a controlled driving environment.
Senate Bill 290 has been widely lauded by members of law enforcement since it is smart on crime. Senator Rafferty praised advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and PA Parents Against Impaired Driving for working tirelessly to gain passage of the measure. He also thanked his colleagues in both chambers such as Senator Lloyd Smucker and Rep. Keith Greiner who were instrumental in the passage of this legislation.
“States that have similar laws clearly show the implementation of ignition interlocks for first-time offenders significantly reduce drunk-driving fatalities,” Rafferty said. “The families and friends of DUI victims as well as the legislators who supported this bill through the legislative process should be proud to know that their efforts strengthened our DUI laws and made our roadways safer throughout Pennsylvania.”
If Senate Bill 290 is signed into law by the governor, then Pennsylvania will join forty-eight other states that have laws requiring ignition interlocks for some level of first-time offenders.
Based on statistics compiled by MADD, nearly 2 million drunk-driving attempts have been stopped with ignition interlocks across the nation, including more than 78,000 instances in Pennsylvania between 2003 and 2015.
Nolan Ritchie, Senate Transportation Committee, 717-787-1398