Dec 30, 2013
08:15 AMThe Connecticut Story
MADD Wants Tougher Connecticut Drunk Driving Laws
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
A sign alerts motorists to a sobriety check point at the entrance to I-95 off of Willow St. in New Haven on 12/20/2013.
HARTFORD--When lawmakers return to the State Capitol in February for the 2014 General Assembly session, the Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is determined to close what its leadership sees as a loophole in the state’s drunken driving laws.
Emboldened by a 2012 change in the laws that expanded the use of ignition interlock devices to prevent repeat drunken driving offenders from getting behind the wheel if they are inebriated, the organization wants to extend the use of the equipment further. MADD wants Connecticut lawmakers to require usage of the devices for anyone who is arrested for the first time on drunken driving charges.
The device, when installed in a vehicle, requires the driver to blow into a tube to start it; if the driver’s blood alcohol content is above a certain level, the vehicle won’t start.
But achieving that goal won’t be easy. This year’s General Assembly session is two months shorter than last year’s and MADD officials concede that lawmakers’ primary focus will be the state’s budget.
Connecticut expanded its use of ignition interlock device on Jan. 1, 2012. Prior to that, it took two drunken driving convictions before an individual was required to have the device installed on his or her vehicle in order to be able to have a license restored. That changed at the start of 2012: Installation of the device became mandatory after one conviction.
Now MADD is looking to have use of the ignition interlock expanded to include mandatory usage of the device after an individual’s first arrest. That’s because Connecticut’s laws allow individuals arrested for the first time for violating the state’s drunken driving laws to enter into an alcohol education program that, if successfully completed, results in their record being expunged.
As the laws are now written, first-time offenders don’t have to use the ignition interlocks.