New Oregon Law Increases Use of Ignition Interlocks

Oregon’s laws against drunk driving just got tougher. As of January 2012, Oregon drivers – even first-time offenders – convicted of DUI are required to install ignition-interlock devices in their cars in order to be able to continue to drive.

The new law is a departure from the more lenient standards of the prior law. Under the old law, most first-offense DUI offenders could apply for a diversion program; if approved for the program, offenders could continue driving. Under this program, a driver was essentially on probation and had to complete alcohol treatment. As long as the driver completed the program, the charge was dismissed.

Under the new law, although the charge will still ultimately be dismissed, first-time offenders will need to keep the devices in their vehicles during diversion, if they wish to continue driving. Those with multiple DUI offenses are required to install and maintain the devices in their vehicles for up to five years for the most serious offenders.

How Ignition Interlocks Work

Ignition interlocks are increasingly being used in other states as deterrence for those convicted of DUI. The interlock device is about the size of a cell phone and is connected to the vehicle’s ignition. The device functions in the same way as a breathalyzer. In order to start the car, the driver must blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the engine will not start.

In addition to the initial breath test, the driver must give additional breath samples at random times while the vehicle is in motion. If alcohol is detected in a breath sample, the device records the event on its hard drive and causes the vehicle’s lights to flash and horn to honk until the vehicle is turned off or an alcohol-free breath sample is given.

Each month, offenders are required to report to a service center to have their devices’ data downloaded and monitored. If any violations or attempts to tamper with the device are detected, a report will be issued to the user’s probation officer.

Under the new law, offenders must pay the cost of installing and maintaining the device. The interlock system costs about $75 to install and $59 per month to maintain.

Drunk driving convictions can have serious financial and legal repercussions. If you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to present the strongest defense possible. Contact an experienced DUI attorney to protect your rights and put together an effective defense based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.