BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- A new bill could allow habitual drunk drivers to get their license back earlier if they agree to install a breathalyzer in their car. The device is called an ignition interlock device and would only allow a sober driver to turn on the car. The driver would need to breathe into the IID to start the car to prove they are sober.
The device has the capabilities to take a phot of the person breathing into it which is then sent electronically to a monitoring service in real time.
Under the proposed bill, if a person is convicted of three or more OUI's in a 6 to 8 year period, their license would be reinstated after four years if they agree to use the device. This would cut down on the current license suspension and supporters argue it would help rehabilitate habitual drunk drivers. Seventeen other states already passed similar laws.
One organization in favor of the bill is Mother's Against Drunk Driving. The organization argues offenders using the breathalyzer will be less likely to re-offend. with an ignition interlock device that offender is taught to drive sober.
Frank Harris with Mothers Against Drunk Driving said, "They have to prove they can drive sober every single time they start their vehicle and while they're operating their vehicle. license suspension sounds good, but there needs to be something that makes that offender prove their sobriety so that they are less likely to re-offend. Interlocks are proven to reduce repeat offenses compared to license suspension alone."
A study by M.A.D.D. showed in 2011 Maine had more than 21,000 three time offenders and just under 4,000 5 time offenders. That "repeat offender" rate for drivers using the interlock device only one-point-five percent. That's compared with a current rate of about 26-percent last year among Maine drivers according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
When the bill was discussed in the Senate no one spoke against the proposal.