Tallahassee, FL -- February 22, 2012 --
More than 62 thousand people are arrested each year in Florida for drunk driving. One in five of those arrests is a repeat offender.
Now state lawmakers want to give judges the option of ordering a breathalyzer-type device, called an interlock, on offenders cars. The driver would have to blow into the interlock to prove they are sober before the car would start.
“The idea is to put this person back to work, that they can get back to work,” Rep Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said.
Matthew Beard would have turned 26 last month. He was killed in 2006 by a drunk driver.
“Matthew didn’t have to die,” Matthew Beard’s mother, Connie Russell, told the committee.
Mathews’s mother has been working the hallways of the Capitol to change the law so judges have more authority to order interlock devices.
“In the blink of an eye, I was never called mom again,” Russell said. “He was my only son, and I wear this that says “Matt’s Mom.” I’ll never have grandchildren.”
Offenders would have to pay just under a hundred dollars a month to have the devices installed. Then they’d have to pay just about 60 dollars a month for monitoring.
The sponsor says the legislation will give people the option of doing the right thing.
“They cannot mobilize the vehicle if they are drinking, which will change the direction of things,” Rep. Baxley said. “Whereas if they’ve just been suspended or fined, they still may be driving drunk.”
On Wednesday, a house committee named the legislation for Matthew Beard and another DUI victim, Grace Redgate.
The interlock measure has cleared three House committees, but has yet to be heard in the Senate.