In 2011, Alabama passed an ignition interlock law that increased the penalties and consequences for those who are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. As the last state in the U.S. to pass an ignition interlock law, Alabama’s Act 11-613 (HB 361) focused mainly on those who are repeat DUI offenders, as well as those with a BAC of .15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit in the U.S. This law not only increases fines and jail sentences related to drunk driving and driving under the influence in Alabama, but also defines the following criteria for ignition interlock installation periods and driver’s license revocation:
Criteria for Driving Under the Influence Convictions in Alabama
- BAC >=0.15 OR BAC >=0.08 with a minor under 14 in vehicle
- Or, refusal to submit to breath testing
- Or, someone other than the driver of the vehicle was injured at the time of offense
2nd Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
3rd or Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 3 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
4th or Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 5 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.
Additional Alabama Ignition Interlock Law Information
- Convicted offenders are required to get an “ignition interlock required” type license to indicate the operator is required to maintain an ignition interlock device.
- Any convicted offender required to utilize ignition interlock found operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device is subject to an additional period of six months of ignition interlock requirement, in addition to other penalties.
- If the offender incurs any of the following violations while the ignition interlock device is installed, the time the IID is installed on the car will be extended for 6 months:
- BAC >=.02 four or more times within a 30-day period
- Tampering with or bypassing the ignition interlock device
- Failure to get the ignition interlock device serviced within a 30-day period
- If the convicted offender is arrested for a new DUI offense, refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test and is subsequently convicted OR the convicted offender’s BAC is >0.15, the duration of the time the IID is required shall be doubled.
Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device law protects drivers on the road
- Ignition Interlock Devices only work when they are installed. The NHTSA states that between 60% and 80% of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive. Without an ignition interlock device, these drivers could be driving under the influence of alcohol. Long-term driver’s license revocations with no interlock options can lead people to complacency, encouraging convicted DUI offenders to drive while on suspension, leading to additional fines, legal issues, and compounded drunk driving offenses.
- The Alabama Ignition Interlock Law allows convicted DUI offenders to drive legally and safely so that they can maintain employment and family/societal obligations. Recent studies prove that interlock devices can reduce DUI recidivism by up to 90% while they are installed (Voas & Marques, 2003; Willis et al., 2005; Vezina, 2002; Tippetts & Voas, 1997; Coben & Larkin, 1999).
- The new Alabama law focuses on hardcore drunk drivers. In 2009, 70% of drivers involved in drunk driving fatalities had a BAC level >.15 or higher – a trend that has remained steady for more than a decade (NHTSA/FARS, 2010). By requiring Ignition Interlock devices, driving privileges for those with high BAC levels and numerous DUI offenses, this Act provides a reasonable alternative for safe driving that benefits the offender and the surrounding community.
- The Alabama Interlock Act takes into account the time and effort needed to change behaviors. The longer IID installation periods for habitual offenders addresses the need for the time and effort required to support behavioral change.
While Alabama is the last state in the U.S. to pass an ignition interlock law, it is only the 13th state to require an IID for first-time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or greater. More states should follow the example set forth by Alabama lawmakers, and increase the safety of the roads across the country.