Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, used St. Patrick’s Day as a platform to urge support for a bill that would require all drivers convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
SB259 also contains language that would let drivers charged but not convicted of a DUI to avoid the administrative revocation and drive while awaiting resolution of their charges if they install an ignition interlock on their vehicle.
Manendo said the waiver applies only to the administrative suspension, not to the criminal case.
The bill says the court must order installation of an interlock device “for all persons convicted of an offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.” It also mandates the device must be installed in the vehicle at least six months and says if the driver doesn’t install the interlock, he or she can’t drive for six months, double the current 90 days.
The devices are rented not purchased from manufacturers and cost about $2.50 a day — $75 a month. But the bill would mandate reducing that monthly fee for those with incomes below the poverty limit.
Under SB259, that monthly rental fee must be paid for by the defendant and the device must be installed in each vehicle the defendant has access to drive.
“The goal is to prevent those who drive drunk from being able to start their car if they have been drinking,” Manendo said.
The interlock device has a small breathalyzer the driver breathes into before his car will start. If that device detects alcohol at a level of 0.02 percent —a quarter of the legal limit — the vehicle won’t start.
The bill does give judges the discretion to not order installation of the device “if such an order would not serve the interests of justice.”
Manendo said there were 97 DUI fatalities in Nevada in 2015. He said the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving has released a report saying the more than 1,200 interlocks currently in use in Nevada prevented 855 vehicle starts in 2016.
The bill is being reviewed by the Senate Transportation Committee.