New bill calls for stricter ignition interlock requirements

Politics - Government

A state lawmaker is looking to make it harder for convicted drunk drivers who have ignition interlock devices to get their drivers licenses back.

The device acts as a breathalyzer and prevents the car from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Rep. Elizabeth Thomson, (D) Albuquerque, hopes this bill prevents offenders from continuing to drive drunk.

“This is more about prevention than punishment, and we just want people who are still continuing to drink and try to drive to have to have their interlocks remain on their cars so we know they’re not driving drunk,” said Rep. Thomson.

Rep. Thomson said last year, the legislature amended the rules so that a person could not be eligible to get their license back if they had more than two ignition lockouts within the last six months of having that device. This amendment would eliminate that two strikes rule and make it so that a person can get their license back if they don’t have any failed lockouts within the last six months of their required time with the ignition device.

Committee members on both sides of the aisle felt that was a bit of a stretch.

“I feel like six months is a little too heavy handed there,” said Rep. Candy Ezzell, (R) Roswell. “I wouldn’t be opposed to three months.”

However, one representative pointed out that the federal recommendations fall in line with Rep. Thomson’s proposal. 

Rep. Thomson said the new rule only caught about ten people trying to drive drunk within the last six months with their ignition device, but believe the new rule would catch about 50 to 60 each year.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), more than 12,000 people have these ignition interlock devices in New Mexico. 

All committee members voted to approve this bill. The DOT does not believe the bill would hurt the department financially.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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