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Ignition interlock devices used to prevent repeat DUIs

In an effort to keep the roads safe, Rhode Island allows steep consequences for those who are convicted of DUIs. According to WPRI, it has been two years since ignition interlock devices became one of the ways judges are able to punish DUI offenders. The devices operate like breathalyzer tests, and before a drive is able to start the car they have to blow into the device and show a blood-alcohol content of lower than .02 in order for the ignition to turn on. The state’s legal limit is .08 blood-alcohol concentration. Judges are able to restrict those convicted of a DUI to only drive cars that are equipped with an ignition interlock device.

When the laws went into effect in 2015, states with similar laws found using the devices lowered repeat offenses by two-thirds. Previously, judges could take away a driver’s license after a DUI conviction, but that didn’t actually keep them from driving or re-offending.

Of course, no law will prevent all repeat offenders. The Westerly Sun reports that a man was pulled over for drunk driving, and after failing a field sobriety test, officers discovered a disconnected ignition interlock device in his passenger seat. The driver, who was seen weaving across the center of the road multiple times by an off-duty officer, refused to submit to a chemical test and had to be assisted while standing. The ignition interlock device was court-ordered after a September 2016 DUI conviction. It was not immediately clear how he was able to disconnect the device from his vehicle.

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