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Traffic Safety Trends

Traffic Safety Trends

In 2020, there were more than 350 impaired driving bills proposed to legislators in 46 states. After being reviewed and voted on by lawmakers, 60 of these bills moved forward to become laws and were enacted in 33 states. Some were completely new requirements, and others made adjustments to existing laws or policies. The National Conference of State Legislatures released a report detailing all the changes made to DUI laws in 2020.

The intent of each of the bills was to make the roads safer for all. Many create or increase penalties for DUI offenses, or require certain circumstances to be considered at sentencing. It’s important to know the changes and how they can impact you if you are convicted of a DUI. Many states made significant updates to their ignition interlock device rules and regulations. If you’re unsure whether legislative changes apply to you and your offense, Intoxalock state specialists can help.

Ignition Interlock Device State Requirements

All 50 states have some kind of ignition interlock policy that either requires IIDs or allows them as a method of regaining driving privileges. In 2020, Virginia and Delaware passed legislation regarding restricted driving privileges and ignition interlocks.

Changes to Virginia IID Laws

  • Senate Bill 439: With Senate Bill 439, Virginia updated impaired driving laws in the state. Now, first-time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) lower than 0.15 percent are eligible for a restricted driver’s license if they install an ignition interlock for a year. Repeat offenders or those whose BAC is higher than 0.15 may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license as well. However, they must now abstain from drinking alcohol, agree to use a remote alcohol monitoring device, and take part in an alcohol safety action program. The remote alcohol devices used need to have the capability to confirm the location of a person and the presence of alcohol in their system. They also need to allow scheduled tests, random tests, and on-demand tests.
  • House Bill 34: This bill allowed first offenders who violate the implied consent law to obtain a restricted driver’s license if eligible. Violating this law occurs if an offender refuses to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. These offenders can be eligible if the court approves, but they also are required to install an IID on all vehicles they own and complete an alcohol safety action program.
  • Senate Bill 282: This allows those convicted for driving under the influence of drugs to get a restricted driver’s license if they install an IID.

Changes to Delaware IID Laws

  • House Bill 152: This bill now requires all offenders who have had their driving privileges revoked to install an IID if they wish to drive during the revocation period. This includes those applying for a limited license that only allows them to drive to certain places.

Changes to Indiana IID Laws

  • House Bill 1157: Indiana made changes to its suspension laws. Now, any record of suspension must be removed from the record of defendants who are charged with a DUI, but not convicted. This includes if the suspension was linked to a refusal to take a BAC test and requires courts to end suspensions that were mandated as punishments for refusing to take a test if the defendant accepted a plea agreement.

Changes to West Virginia IID Laws

  • Senate Bill 130: This bill changed the procedure for license suspensions and revocations for people charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For those charged but not convicted, the court will now determine who is subject to a suspension on a case-by-case basis.

Changes to Implied Consent and Impairment Testing Laws

When anyone applies for a driver’s license, they are technically agreeing to allow officers to test their breath or blood alcohol content if they are stopped on suspicion of impaired driving. The penalties for refusing a test vary, but refusing to take an alcohol content test does not mean you also escape consequences. Most states suspend or revoke licenses of those who refuse a test for a significant period.

States Implied Consent Law Changes

Utah

  • House Bill 139: This legislation makes refusing to submit to a blood test when a DUI is suspected a Class B misdemeanor. Repeat offenders and anyone who has refused a test in connection with an automobile homicide are guilty of a third-degree felony. The sentencing is the same for those who were confirmed to have committed a DUI violation. The penalties include:
    • Court orders offenders to install an IID
    • Offenders also need to wear a transdermal alcohol monitoring device on their ankle or submit to monitored home confinement.
    • First-time offenders over 21 have license revoked for 18 months
    • Repeat offenders over 21 have license revoked for 36 months
    • First-time offenders under 21 have their license revoked until their 21st birthday, or two years (three years for repeat offenders). Whichever restriction is longest will be chosen.

Michigan

  • Senate Bill 718: This bill authorized the state police to create a one-year pilot program for roadside drug testing. When they complete and implement the program, they will then be required to submit a report with statistical data about the number of arrests and convictions for DUI relating to the program.

Vermont

  • Senate Bill 54: Vermont amended its testing policy to include saliva. Twenty-three other states have authorized oral fluid testing for screening and evidence. Saliva testing was also added to Vermont’s implied consent and test administration laws. Suspects can be required to submit a saliva test if the law enforcement officer requests it. As part of this bill, the Department of Public Safety was also told to identify “a threshold level of concentration of a psychoactive metabolite of cannabis in a person’s bloodstream to establish impairment and approving a chemical testing device for roadside use capable of demonstrating such a threshold.” At the end of the development, they will submit a proposal to the legislature to implement the device. The bill also made changes to how blood and saliva samples are collected, and included a requirement for 16 hours of training in “Advanced Roadside Driving Enforcement."

New York

  • Assembly Bill 712: This legislation created a requirement for all drivers of for-hire vehicles that transport nine or more people to undergo a pre-employment background check and submit to random alcohol and drug testing. This differs from federal regulations, which only require pre-employment and random testing for vehicle drives carrying 15 or more people. The new state law also calls for the creation of a public education campaign to inform employers and drivers of the new requirements. In addition, these drivers cannot consume drugs or alcohol within eight hours of being on duty, and employers cannot require them to be on duty if it appears that they have not met this eight-hour requirement. If the requirement is violated, they will be fined.

New and Enhanced DUI Penalties in Indiana, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin

A few states updated their penalties and in some cases, enhanced existing ones. In other cases, new penalties were added.

  • Indiana (SB 335): This new legislation establishes 12 years as the maximum number of years to consider prior convictions. This means that if an offender has a repeat offense within 12 years, the prior conviction will be considered when it comes to handing down penalties. Repeat DUI offenders who caused death or serious injuries will have these offenses considered regardless of the number of years since the offense.
  • Washington (HB 1504): Washington made updates to its law that apply to aggravated DUI. Aggravating circumstances in DUI cases include causing death or driving with a child in the vehicle, and enhanced penalties are now mandatory. Offenders who offend with these aggravating circumstances are also not eligible to receive good time credits.
  • West Virginia (SB 765): The state has updated its habitual offender law to include DUI and causing death. Second offenders may now receive a sentence that is five years longer. Offenders who repeat the offense more than twice may be imprisoned for life.
  • Wisconsin (SB 6): Wisconsin updated its laws to include a mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months for offenders who previously offended, specifically those who commit a fifth or sixth DUI offense. The court does have discretion to give a shorter sentence if they feel it is warranted.

Updates to Diversion and Sealing and Expungement of Records in Louisiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia

Sealing and expunging records refers to the accessibility of those records to law enforcement and the general public (in a background check, for example). Some states allow for people to have records of a criminal case sealed. For example, this is common in cases with juvenile offenders. Juvenile records are typically sealed as the perpetrator was a minor at the time. Sealed records are only accessible with a court order. Expungement is the term used when an offense is completely removed from an offender’s record. Sometimes this occurs if the offender meets a variety of criteria after a certain amount of time has passed. If expunged, the offense would not appear in their record at all. Louisiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia all amended their expungement laws that related to DUI offenders.

  • Louisiana (HB 241): The new law repealed an existing provision that limited expungement for DUI misdemeanor offenses to once every 10 years.
  • North Carolina (SB 562): North Carolina also revised expungement laws. Now offenders under 18 can remove certain offenses, but not any offense that involves impaired driving.
  • West Virginia (SB 562): West Virginia also amended their expungement laws. The change now ensures that a DUI conviction does not prevent the expungement of unrelated offenses if it’s five years old when the offender files to have the other offenses expunged.

Michigan legislature did pass a bill that allows first-time DUI offenders to apply for expungement if they did not cause death or serious injury in the course of the alcohol-related driving offense.

Other states did introduce and pass bills that focus on diversion programs for DUI offenders. These programs aim to help offenders with rehabilitation for the drinking behavior that led to the original offense. In some cases, offenders can avoid conviction or a criminal record by participating in a diversion program. Some feel that expungement makes it easier for people to re-offend, as it allows repeat offenders to avoid harsher penalties.

Idaho and California have recently made updates to their diversion program laws in 2020

  • California (AB 3234): The change now allows judges the discretion to require misdemeanor DUI offenders to attend a diversion program. Once completed successfully, the charges may be dismissed and the offender can avoid jail time.
  • Idaho (HB 405): Now, its diversion program law excludes commercial driver’s license holders, commercial learner’s permit holders, and offenders who were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.

Typically, commercial driver’s license holders lose their commercial license following a DUI offense.

Legislation Concerning 24/7 Sobriety, Drug Monitoring Programs, and Treatment Programs

Repeat DUI offenses are a huge concern. FBI data shows that offenders caught for a first-time offense have likely driven drunk at least 80 times before getting caught. This is a habit, and many offenders go on to repeat their offenses. Thus, DUI recidivism is a huge concern for law enforcement and legislators. Currently, there are a few systems in place that attempt to prevent DUI offenders from reoffending, including:

  • Treatment programs: The program contents may vary, but typically treatment programs involve a combination of therapy and monitoring to assist people in achieving their goal of sobriety.
  • 24/7 monitoring/Sobriety monitoring: This method requires offenders to test their breath or urine several times a day to prove they are sober. Sometimes, other types of alcohol monitoring devices are used, like ankle bracelets, patches, ignition interlock devices, and portable home alcohol monitors. When offenders fail or miss these tests, they can be hit with additional penalties. These penalties could include their bond being revoked, or potential incarceration for 24-48 hours. These monitoring programs do not require an offender to also enter a treatment program. Fourteen states have sobriety monitoring programs or pilots in place - Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Some states require these programs, for others, they are optional or offered as an opportunity to offenders who want to complete them successfully in return for a lesser penalty. A few states made updates to their sobriety monitoring requirements or treatment mandates this year.

  • Iowa (HB 2411): This bill did away with provisions that gave courts or government bodies the right to mandate participation in the Sobriety and Drug Monitoring Program to be eligible for a temporary restricted license. The new law also removed provisions that required individuals who must install an IID to participate in the program as well. However, they can still be placed in the program as a condition of their bond, pretrial release, sentence, probation, or parole. Those offenders who are placed in the program and own a vehicle must install an IID to get a restricted license.
  • Louisiana (SB 352): This bill gives courts the authority to order repeat DUI offenders to take an evidence-based substance use disorder assessment. The results are considered and the court may refer the offender to a rehab program. If offenders show they cannot pay, the law does not apply.
  • West Virginia (SB 678): This bill requires the DMV to accept completion of the Getting Over Addicted Lifestyle (GOALS) program, instead of completion of the DUI Safety and Treatment program.

Other Bills Relating to Impaired Driving

Several states passed bills relating to impaired driving, including some marijuana-related bills. These bills impact DUI law but do not fit in the above categories.

  • New Hampshire (SB 34): This bill clarifies that the DUI statutes use of drive, attempt to drive, or actual physical control does not apply to individuals who are sleeping, resting, or sitting in place in a vehicle that’s correctly parked. This applies if the person is not seated in the driver’s seat/at the controls.
  • Utah (HB 139): Utah also clarified actual physical control in their DUI statutes. They say it does not include instances where someone is asleep in any seat other than the driver’s seat if the facts show that the vehicle was not driven to the parking spot while under the influence.
  • New Jersey (AB 4312): Officers wearing body camera models that produce radio frequency are now required to deactivate or remove the device on DUI stops if they are operating an electronic breath-testing device. Officers are required to explain the reasons and turn their cameras back on once the breath test has been completed.
  • Tennessee (SB 1643): With this bill, Tennessee rejoined 45 other states in the Interstate Driver License Compact, which they had dropped from in 1997. The compact is used by the member states to exchange information about non-residents driver’s license suspension and traffic violation information. This includes speeding and DUI offenses, which can now be shared with the offender’s home state. The home state can then impose penalties or restrictions required by law for offenses committed in other states. The home state must also honor the DUI license suspension requirements of the state where the DUI offense occurred.
  • Virginia (HB 923): This bill repealed provisions that allowed courts to prevent the sale of alcohol to people who had shown themselves to be “habitual drunkards.”
  • Virginia (SB 509 / HB 5058): This bill prevents law enforcement officers from stopping and searching cars based on the smell of marijuana being present. If an unlawful search is conducted, the evidence will not be admissible.
  • Virginia (SB2): This bill decriminalized marijuana possession, converting it into a civil offense. Now, charges or judgments for marijuana violations will not appear on anyone’s criminal record unless the violation occurred while they were driving a commercial vehicle. In those cases, the incident must be reported and included in the driving record.
  • Washington (HB 2483): This bill clarified the vehicle impoundment requirements that apply when a driver is arrested for DUI. Now, instead of requiring impoundment, the arresting officer can use their discretion to decide on a case-by-case basis. Also, when a commercial or farm vehicle is involved, the officer must attempt to contact the owner (if the owner is not also the driver). They must attempt to contact the owner and release the vehicle to them. Previously, the law stated that the owner could not be in the vehicle at the time of arrest, however, now the vehicle can be released to the owner if they were a passenger during the incident.

Not Sure About Laws? Intoxalock State Specialists Can Help

If you’re uncertain about your options after a DUI incident, Intoxalock state specialists can help. They are experts in the laws and requirements of your state and can assist you in determining the next steps. They can guide you through the process, help you make an installation appointment, and answer any questions. Contact a specialist at 833-623-0200 or fill out this form to have someone reach out to you.



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