Transportation and Telecommunications

Longer ignition interlock requirements for DUI advance

Senators advanced a bill from general file April 3 that would require those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicle for a minimum of one year.

Current law requires a 45-day revocation of an offender’s license and installation of an ignition interlock device for the remaining balance of the one-year probation period.

Under LB158, introduced by Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, a driver convicted of DUI would receive a mandatory 45-day driver’s license revocation after which he or she would be required to install an ignition interlock device for a full year.

Seiler said the bill was introduced to bring Nebraska into compliance with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandate that requires repeat DUI offenders to have such devices installed for at least one consecutive year. If Nebraska remains out of compliance, he said, the state could lose $6.2 million in federal road funding that instead would be allocated to mandatory safety programs.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, adopted 33-0, replaced the bill. Under the amendment, an offender’s license would not be reinstated until after the court-ordered ignition interlock device installation period. Offenders who have prior convictions or are serving probation would have their license revoked for 18 months from the court-ordered date and must have an ignition interlock device installed for at least one year.

Fullerton Sen. Annette Dubas, chairperson of the committee, said the original provisions of the bill would permit the state Department of Motor Vehicles to reinstate an offender’s license while a driver is under a court order, therefore keeping the state out of compliance with the federal mandate.

The amendment includes an emergency clause and the bill would take effect July 1, 2013.

Seiler said the federal mandate also places no driving restrictions on interlock ignition permit holders. He offered an amendment, adopted 33-0, that would eliminate the current restrictions on such permit holders to operate a vehicle only for purposes of employment, education, substance abuse treatment, parole or probation supervision, health care for themselves or their dependents, court-ordered community service obligations and ignition interlock servicing.

The bill advanced from general file on a 34-0 vote.

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