HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — “This is an historic bill for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” State Senator John Rafferty was more than happy Thursday morning to talk about Senate Bill 290 which he sponsored which is the so-called Ignition Interlock Law.
Under the new law, first time convicted DUI offenders in Pennsylvania with blood-alcohol levels of .10 to .15 percent could avoid the current one year driver’s license suspension by seeking a new ignition interlock license. Sen. Rafferty called it a smarter punishment for the first time DUI offender. “He can still support his family or she can still support her family by driving to work. They can go to the athletic events with their children. They can drive to church or synagogue.”
The ignition interlock system requires first time offenders to blow into a device each time they start their car. The device is designed to ensure the offender doesn’t skirt the law by getting a “designated blower”. “There is a specific timing sequence to that. It’s not like I can just pull him over here and have him successfully take my test,” said Brad Fralick who is the Director of Government Relations for Intoxalock which is one of seven ignition interlock providers in Pennsylvania.
Chris Demko of Lancaster strongly supports the measure. His 18-year-old daughter, Meredith, was killed two years ago by a DUI driver. “DUI tragedies like ours happen far too frequently in Pennsylvania. The laws have been inadequate in addressing these issues.”
Citing 345 DUI related fatalities statewide last year, Mr. Demko and his group Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PA PAID) call the law a step in the right direction. “This law has shown by experience with similar legislation in many states is one of the most effective tools in reducing deaths due to DUI.”
The new law is not a cheap option. The offending driver will have to pay roughly $1,000 for the interlock system. PennDOT says the new law should go into effect sometime next summer.