New DUI law goes into effect in Pennsylvania

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Pennsylvania has some new rules when it comes to people convicted of driving under the influence.

As of Friday, the commonwealth’s new ignition interlock law went into effect.

The new law will require first time DUI offenders, who have a blood alcohol content of at least .10 to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle.

Previously, drivers would have had their license suspended for one year.

Bob Sheridan owns D&S Auto Sales in Scranton.

For the last six years, he has put ignition interlock systems into vehicles and may soon be a lot busier.

He thinks the new law is a good thing.

“Before, years ago, you couldn’t drive at all. Now you can drive if you’ve got to get back and forth to work but you know what? You’re going to have to follow the system!” Bob Sheridan said.

The new law says first-time DUI offenders with a BAC of .10 or higher will have to use the device for at least a year.

Drivers will have to blow into a tube before getting their car to turn on.

If the device traces alcohol, the vehicle won’t start.

“I actually think it strikes an interesting balance,” Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon said.

Scanlon has dealt with a number of deadly DUI crashes recently.

One benefit that he sees is that the roads might ultimately be a little safer.

“In 2016, we looked back at our caseload and we noticed that approximately 25-percent of every case that this office prosecuted was a DUI and in looking at those DUI’s about 25-percent of those were repeat offenders!” Scanlon said.

According to legislative sponsors of the new law, Pennsylvania will now be on par with 48 other states.

It doesn’t come cheap and some critics see it as a cash-grab.

The devices cost hundreds of dollars to install and monitor.

Bob Sheridan says the devices are also extremely sensitive.

“You go out and have chicken marsala with wine sauce, that’s going to kick it. You have mouthwashes that have alcohol and you’ve got to be careful, different mouthwashes that you use will kick the system,” Sheridan said.

Up until Friday, Pennsylvania only required ignition interlock devices for repeat drunk drivers.

The new law passed overwhelming in both the PA House and PA Senate and was signed by Governor Tom Wolf.

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