New drunk driving measures went into effect this week in Pennsylvania. The new law requires first-time offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) higher than .10 percent to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicles. Previously, an IID was only required for second and subsequent offenders. The new law allows first-time offenders to drive immediately with the IID installed, rather than wait until after serving a driver’s license suspension, currently between 30 days and 1 year, based upon the offender’s BAC percentage.
The new law also applies to drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing. Currently, a driver who refuses the test would receive between a 1-year and 18-month suspension. With the new law, the first-time offender who refuses to take the test will still have their license suspended, but will be eligible for an IID after serving 6 months of that suspension, regardless of the suspension time period.
PennDOT reported that in 2016 there were 297 alcohol-related fatalities or 25 percent of all fatalities on Pennsylvania highways. Alcohol-related crashes were nearly 4 times more likely to cause a fatal injury than those not related to alcohol.