The penalties under the new law include a one-year license suspension for first-time "super drunks"; an increase in the potential maximum jail sentence from 93-days to 180-days; higher fines (up to $700 now); and mandatory use of an "ignition interlock" device for a year. The new law also features the longest alcohol rehabilitation treatment requirement on the books; one-year. Penalties for multiple convictions are not affected as those penalties remain very high (i.e. one-year in jail or a prison sentence for 3rd time offenders).
Once on probation under the law, there is a significant therapeutic component to the statute; up to one-year alcohol rehabilitation treatment at the judge's (and probation's) discretion.
The Ignition Interlock Device
Notice of all "super drunk" driving convictions is sent to the Secretary of State. The driver's license is then suspended for one year. The driver can petition for an interlock following successful completion of a 45-day "hard suspension". A "hard suspension" is no driving at all.
The ignition interlock device costs approximately $50 to install and $100 per month, depending on the model.
The interlock devices approved by the Secretary of State are also approved in the United States Code; the administrative regulations for federal laws.
If an interlocked probation driver either: drives with more than .025 BAC, then the new law provides for a double-penalty relative to the driving restrictions. The Secretary of State will initiate an additional one-year suspension. There are also new crimes in the statute for driving a non-interlocked vehicle. Penalties for this violation include vehicle immobilization and paying the costs for same.
If a convicted "super drunk" driver subsequently operates a non-interlocked vehicle, that vehicle becomes an "offending vehicle" and is subject to impoundment and immobilization. In addition to a potential violation faced by the probationary driver, the vehicle owner is liable for costs of impounding and immobilizing the vehicle.
The Rehabilitation Component of a Sentence under the "Super Drunk" Driving Law
The new super drunk law also features a one-year alcohol rehabilitation and treatment component. This is the longest such provision in the Motor Vehicle Code, and on the books in general. The precise nature of the treatment is up to the judge and the probation officer to determine. Treatment could include a variety of in-patient and intensive out-patient programs; Alcoholics Anonymous participation; and weekend alcohol awareness programs.
This flexibility is consistent with the underlying philosophy of the now-pervasive but ever budget-dependent "sobriety court" programs.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information, check out the "Law Blogger" post at the Oakland Press website.
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