Maine bill would require interlock devices for drunken driving offenders

| 12/18/2007

With a few weeks remaining until the start of the legislative session in Maine, a state senator is touting legislation that would get tough with drivers who repeatedly get behind the wheel after drinking too much.

Sen. Lynn Bromley, D-South Portland, will renew her push for a measure that would require people with previous drunken driving convictions to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Maine is one of only five states that do not use the devices.

Interlocks are hooked up to the ignition of vehicles. Once such a device is installed, a driver must blow into a mouthpiece, which measures the amount of alcohol on a person’s breath. If the driver blows clean, the car will then start; if not, it won’t budge.

In addition, the devices often require drivers to re-blow in the machine after a designated period of time, to ensure that they have not convinced someone else to blow into the mouthpiece for them, or that they haven’t been drinking since getting behind the wheel.

Advocates for stricter drunken driving rules cite statistics that show drivers who are convicted on driving while intoxicated usually have driven drunk 87 times before being caught.

The bill would require installation of the devices for an amount of time that would depend on the length and severity of individuals’ driving records.

The cost of installing the devices would be the driver’s responsibility. They typically run about $125 to install and $65 per month to maintain and recalibrate.

The measure – LD856 – is expected to draw consideration during the regular session that begins Jan. 2.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maine in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor