DUIs may become a little more costly

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By Angel Eggerson, Contributor

Legislative Bill 667, recently presented before Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, would repeal the current Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law for drunk drivers.

Under ALR, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) will automatically suspend the license of anyone arrested for DUI.  If a person is arrested for driving under the influence, the arresting officer will take the person’s license and issue a yellow temporary license good for 30 days.  During this time, the person arrested may challenge the ALR.

With the new legislation, proposed and backed by State Attorney General Jon Bruning, a person arrested for DUI will have his or her vehicle impounded and be required to purchase an ignition interlock system as a condition of bail.  This will be in addition to any fines imposed.

The system is typically installed through the glove compartment, According to Ignitioninterlockdevice.org.  When the driver is ready to start the vehicle, he or she must blow into a handheld alcohol sensor.  If the breath alcohol content exceeds a preset limit, the vehicle will not start.

The system randomly asks for breath alcohol content samples after the vehicle has started.  If a sample is not offered or is over the limit, an alarm will sound and the car will shut off.  Installation of this device costs $200 to $500 and there is a monthly maintenance fee of $50 to $100.

Opponents of ALR say it has become a costly measure in which drunk drivers manipulate the system to prolong the inevitable suspension of their licenses, according to a recent article released in the Omaha World-Herald.

Though the current system may not be perfect, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show there has been a decline in the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers on Nebraska roads since the law’s enactment in 1992.

 The proposed bill may also put Nebraska in jeopardy of losing federal funding to fight drunk driving.  According to a Feb. 27 Omaha World-Herald article written by Henry Cordes, Nebraska receives over $1 million each year for being in compliance with federal highway safety regulations.

Opponents of the bill say it may be unconstitutional to require someone who has only been arrested to purchase the device, restricting the driver’s due process rights.  Some also say this bill will not serve as a deterrent at all.

Shane Donovan, a senior Journalism student at UNO, said he has little faith the bill will make a difference.  People should take personal responsibility and plan ahead, using designated drivers if they choose to drink, he added.

“DUI laws are harsh enough with fines and suspensions,” he said.  “Most drunk people don’t think logically.  A new law isn’t going to make a difference.”

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