HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Starting July 1, all Connecticut residents who have their license suspended after being charged with operating under the influence will be required to install a breathalyzer on the ignition of their car. The device used to be required after a second offense.
The breathalyzer, known as an ignition interlock device (IID), requires the driver to blow a breath sample into a tube in order for their car to start.
“If they blow in and it’s under the limit that’s set, then they can start their car,” said Skip Church, who lost his 18-year-old son, Dustin, to a drunk driving accident in 2004.
The car won’t start if the sample is over .025, and random samples are required while the car is operating.
“We know that states that have IID’s, there’s been a 40-percent decrease in alcohol related fatalities, so we certainly expect to see that in Connecticut,” said Janice Haggie Margolis, the Executive Director of MADD Connecticut.
The duration of time in which the IID must be installed is dependent on whether the offender is 21 at the time of the incident, whether they are a repeat offender, and the result or refusal of the blood alcohol test taken.
This law will affect up to 6,500 first-time offenders charged with operating under the influence. The previous law did not require those who entered a diversion program to use the IDD, but the new law now requires all offenders to.
“This law closes a loophole that allowed some offenders to avoid an ignition interlock. MADD’s top legislative priority is to pass laws that require ignition interlocks for all offenders, because ignition interlocks save lives,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church in a statement. “This law will now fulfill the commitment to Connecticut residents that the Legislature made back in 2011.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), repeat offenses have been reduced by 67-percent due to the implementation of IDDs. Church says the they won’t cost taxpayers, as the offender pays for the device, its installation, and usage.
With Fourth of July coming up this weekend, state officials remind residents that 39-percent of all crash fatalities involve alcohol-impaired drivers, and that police will be on high alert for drunk drivers.