From heavy fines to license revocation to an extended stay behind bars, the possible punishments that follow a conviction on drunk driving charges are serious and can potentially follow a person for the rest of their life. Specifically in Colorado, even a first-time offense can warrant a mandatory ignition interlock device being installed in a defendant’s future vehicles.

An ever-present invasion of personal freedom and reminder of one’s DUI conviction, interlock devices necessitate that a driver blow into a breathalyzer device on a car or truck’s dashboard and exhibit a blood alcohol content low enough-usually .02 or .04 percent-for the vehicle to start.

Taken to be a highly effective way of preventing future drunk driving incidents, the mandatory use of an interlock device for each and every DUI and DWI conviction as a nationwide standard was recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month.

Already on the books in Colorado and 16 other states, a nationwide mandatory ignition interlock device law would be a significant shift in American DUI policy that has its share of detractors. The American Beverage Institute spoke out against the NTSB’s recommendations, insisting that ignition locks should be reserved for the most “hardcore” drunken drivers and not implemented for first-time offenders, whose charges may have come as a result of a temporary lapse of judgment and are otherwise safe, responsible motorists.

While the debate over a nationwide ignition lock law is sure to continue into the New Year, drivers in Breckenridge, Dillon, Silverthorne, and across all of Colorado must already contend with them as a possible outcome of a drunk driving charge. However, with the help of a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI and DWI defense, lessened charges may be secured, preserving one’s freedom to drive without permanent breath tests.

Source: Star Tribune, “NTSB recommends every state require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers,” Joan Lowy, Dec. 11, 2012