No Alabama Alcohol, More Mississippi Underage Drunk Driving?

More Mississippi underage drinking? Thanks, AlabamaSpring break is headed our way, even as many of us are already enjoying spring-like weather, despite what that pesky groundhog told us. With such an early start to spring this year, college students are raring to get their spring break fix, especially those with coastal plans. But Alabama seems to have a different idea this year, with new laws to keep the Alabama beaches more family-friendly than ever. As a result, those laws may also increase Mississippi underage drunk driving.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

In 2016, Gulf Shores, Alabama, had a problem with its beaches, particularly where spring breakers were drinking. So this year, the state is banning alcohol from its public beaches, allowing for safe spring break celebrations and selfies. Gulf Shores isn’t too far from Gulf Port, Mississippi, at least not when you’re planning for a bombdiggity spring break trip. Mississippi isn’t banning alcohol from its beaches, making it an even more shiny destination for college spring break partiers who don’t pay attention to Mississippi underage drunk driving laws or the problems that can occur when intoxicated. While tourist seasons are important for both communities, Gulf Shores may have a better plan for outlasting the seasonal flow of students, alcohol, and the problems that occur when those two forces combine before the age of 21.

What happens on spring break can follow you around for the rest of your life, no matter where you spend your week away from school. A Mississippi underage drunk driving conviction (or any kind of DUI from any state) can affect your ability to get a job, housing or entry into grad school. Spring break is just around the corner, make sure you come out on the other side just as smart as you were going into the fun.

Alabama Ignition Interlock Law Starts July 1

alabama ignition interlockAs the 21st state to adopt an ignition interlock law for first-time DUI offenders, Alabama is hopeful that the new law will save lives and encourage responsible drinking choices throughout the state. The Bolivar Commercial reports that the new Alabama ignition interlock law goes into effect on July 1, 2014, allowing the courts to sentence first-time, convicted DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device in order to retain his or her driving privileges. State Senator Willie Simmons explains that in addition to the guidelines for court, a parent may also request an ignition interlock device for an underage driver or a spouse, citing safety considerations. Read more here: New law hopefully to curb DUIs

New Alabama Ignition Interlock Law Passes

alabama ignition interlock lawIgnition interlock devices are responsible for saving lives each day, effectively taking the choice to drive drunk from the hands of those who have already been convicted of a drunk driving offense. In accordance with 20 other states, Alabama has recently passed a new law that would require the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for all DUI offenders in the state. This Alabama ignition interlock law will allow a convicted DUI offender who tested at a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to install an ignition interlock on any vehicle driven. With support from MADD, the new Alabama ignition interlock law focuses on any person convicted of DUI, including first-time offenders. With the new Alabama ignition interlock law, the state should see less impact from drunk driving accidents overall. Read more here: Ala. Becomes 21st State to Pass All-Offender Ignition Interlock Legislation

Focus on Alabama Ignition Interlock Laws

shiny icon in form of Alabama state, USAThe state of Alabama requires the installation and maintenance of ignition interlock devices for first time offenders with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or greater. The state of Alabama also requires the instillation of ignition interlock devices on all repeat DUI offenders. These devices must be installed on any vehicle operated by the offender. The offender is responsible for all fees associated with the ignition interlock devices, including installation, maintenance fees, monthly lease payments, and the cost of removal. These ignition interlock devices are only obtainable through certified providers within Alabama.

Ignition interlock devices are small mechanical devices that connect to a vehicle’s ignition system. In order to start the vehicle the driver is required to submit a breath sample, measuring the driver’s BAC. If the level of alcohol in the driver’s system is above a preset limit the ignition system will lock and the driver will not be able to start the car. After a certain amount of time the driver will be able to try again. The ignition interlock devices in Alabama require random re-tests while the vehicle is in operation. If the retest is failed the horn will sound and the vehicle’s lights will flash until the car is turned off or until a passing breath test is submit. In certain instances a failed re-test will result in a lock down of the car, requiring the assistance of an ignition interlock device service provider. The offender is also responsible from any towing fees or service fees from failed breath tests.

  • In the state of Alabama a first time DUI offender is subject to a misdemeanor conviction, a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine ranging from $500 to $2,000, DUI school, and a 90 day suspension of driving privileges from the day of the arrest. If the first offense involves a BAC of .15 percent or higher the courts mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • A second time DUI offender in the state of Alabama results in jail time of a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of a year, 20 days of community service, a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, the suspension of driving privileges for one year, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • A third DUI offense within a five year period of the last DUI conviction results in jail time of a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of a year, a fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, the suspension of driving privileges for three years and an the installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • A fourth DUI offense within a five year period of the last DUI conviction is a Class C felony. The offender serves jail time of a minimum of a year and a maximum of ten years, pays a fine that ranges between $4,000 and $10,000, has driving privileges suspended for five years, and must install an ignition interlock device.

Each conviction also incurs a $100 fine that goes to the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.

Alabama Looks to Tougher DUI Laws

AlabamaMany states in the country have an “interstate compact” when it comes to major traffic violations and the impact on keeping a driver’s license current that allow the reporting of those offenses, but, when it comes to DUI convictions, some believe those convictions should also matter in the court room. DecaturDaily.com reports that Alabama is considering a bill that will not only count in-state DUI convictions, but, also any DUI convictions that occur in Mississippi and Tennessee as prior DUI offenses. This bill addresses the problems faced with drunk drivers who cross the state line, as well as adding directives on other substances that can contribute to a DUI. Read more here: Bill would change state DUI laws

Alabama Ignition Interlock Law Still Pending

AlabamaIgnition interlock devices are reported to help reduce the rate of repeat offenses by up to 67 percent, making these devices a strong measure of prevention against drunk drivers. WHNT19 reports that an Alabama ignition interlock law, however, is not showing effectiveness because it has yet to be implemented. For two years, the state has had the law on the books, but, due to a lack of financial resources, the law cannot live fully up to its potential. By funding the law, more lives could be saved across the state, according to a MADD volunteer. Read more here: Stalled Alabama Law Could Keep Repeat DUI Offenders Off The Road

Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device Law – Protecting People

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

Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device LawFirst Time Revocation: License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years.

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.

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