Beginning this month, repeat drunk drivers will be forced to install a device in their cars to keep them from driving drunk. It's called an "interlock" device that will cost the offender 70 bucks to install and another $70 a month to maintain. The price tag is causing a stir.
One thousand people died last year from alcohol-related crashes in Florida. A new law hopes to lower that grim statistic by requiring repeat drunk drivers to install these on their vehicles.
This interlock device won't let a car start if the driver blows more than a .05 alcohol level. They're expensive, nearly $900 a year to install and maintain.
Defense attorney Tim Jansen says the high cost unfairly punishes the indigent or people just trying to get back on their feet from substance abuse.
“If they've been convicted of the offense, they're going to end up paying their court costs and supervision fees so they could ostensibly be paying like three or $400 a month,” says Tim Jansen.
Andy Hindman with Mothers Against Drunk Driving has no sympathy. He says the victims pay a much higher price.
“The emotional costs, the financial costs, losing your job, losing a loved one, having loved ones who have years and years of therapy, trying to overcome injuries caused by a drunk driver,” says Andy Hindman.
About 3,700 motorists who've been convicted of a second or third dui since last July will be receiving letters like this one, telling them they have to install an interlock on their cars, but even police will tell you the interlock device is not a foolproof way of keeping drunks from driving.
“Realistically, there's nothing we can do if someone wants to go and drive another vehicle that's not equipped with this device,” says LT COL Ken Howes of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Research shows about 90 percent of repeat drivers will comply with the new rule and use the interlock, and that could save a lot of lives.
Florida became the 43rd state to have an interlock program targeting repeat drunk drivers.
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