Bill would require ignition interlocks for DUI first offenders

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Safety advocates want Georgia to become the 35th state to require anyone convicted of driving under the influence to use ignition interlock devices – even for a first offense.

An ignition interlock device is a small breathalyzer installed in a vehicle that prevents someone from driving while intoxicated. Currently, Georgia requires repeat offenders to use the devices for 12 months. They are optional for first offenders.

Senate Bill 485 would require ignition interlocks for six months for all first offenders. Advocates say the devices are a proven method to reduce drunk driving.

“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere,” Glynn Birch, former national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said Monday at a press conference at the Georgia Capitol. He said ignition interlock devices “change the behavior before the party even starts.”

SB 485 got a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday. The committee took no action.

According to MADD, 375 people in Georgia were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2018.