LAS VEGA (FOX5) — A new law aims to save more lives by expanding the state’s Ignition Interlock Device program.
Beginning October 1, anyone arrested for DUI in Nevada is required to install the device in their cars as a condition of getting their licenses back before their trial, and if convicted, the device is mandatory.
The devices have been around for a few years and test for alcohol in the driver’s breath, but there is another type of DUI charge that officials are still working on getting a test for, driving while high.
Still, many DUI victims like Yavon Baldon have said they are thankful state leaders are strengthening DUI punishments.
“This wasn’t his first offense,” said Baldon. “It was a tough time, when it happened he was so under the influence, he tried getting back in his car and leaving.”
Baldon said she is just starting to get her life back to normalcy after a drunk driver almost took everything away last year. Now she is hoping no one else will have to go through what she did, because of the change in law.
“Because if they’re going to do it once,” said Baldon. “They’re going to do it again, and then the next time, you never know, the victim might not be here to tell their story. I don’t want anyone to go through that.”
The device can be installed in any motor vehicle which includes cars and motorcycles and using it is simple, and only takes a few seconds. The driver blows into the mouthpiece and if there is alcohol on their breath, the car will not start.
The device also comes with a camera to make sure the person driving is the person blowing into the device. It also asks for random retests during the commute to make sure offenders aren’t beating the system.
“Impairment is something that continues to plague our state,” said Andrew Bennett, of the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. “That’s why we wanted another tool in our tool bag, but it’s a message to our community that we are taking this seriously and we are expanding our programs to prevent this from happening.”
Officials from the Department of Motor Vehicle said renting a car also won’t work to avoid the device installation because of a change in the offenders license.
“There is a restriction ‘Y,’” said Kevin Malone, DMV Public Information Officer. “You have to have an interlock installed.”
According to the Office of Traffic Safety, last year, one-third of all traffic related crashes involved impairment, this year, there has an increase in driving while high resulting in death.
The device can’t test if the driver is high, but a change is coming in that department as well.
“There’s a few examples that we’re looking into, not on the interlock side,” said Bennett. “But to allow our local law enforcement that opportunity to test for roadside, we’re aware of several other states that are testing equipment and we’ll follow suit.”
He said it doesn’t matter if the offender’s DUI was for drugs or alcohol, he said the law still applies for a good reason.
“Anybody who drives under the influence, is a menace to society,” said Bennett. “Anybody who drives under the influence in general, has a likelihood of driving under the influence of any substance. We’ve got to make sure we look at the big picture, and impairment is that big picture.”
DMV officials are urging anyone arrested for DUI to make sure to contact the DMV first, because there may be additional requirements for their licenses to be reinstated.