Driving under the influence can have significant consequences as a 20-year old Georgia man learned in early April of 2016. Jorge Solis was sentenced to 75 years in prison for causing a fatal drunk driving crash that left three people dead and two more injured. The accident occurred on Father's Day in 2015. Solis was driving the wrong way on I-75, going north in the southbound lanes when his Ford F-350 crashed head on with a car. Michael Furlow and two children, Kaybrin Osborne and Halle Young, were killed in the collision. In addition, "[t]hree-year-old Clayton Flood was paralyzed and 49-year-old Michael Osborne was severely injured." Solis had a blood alcohol content ("BAC") of .125 and he was not injured in the accident. At the time of the crash, he was on probation for an earlier DUI conviction. The court ordered Solis to serve 50 years of his sentence in prison.
9,967 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2014, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving ("MADD"). That same year 290,000 people were injured in crashes. MADD statistics also show that "50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license." In addition, "[a]bout one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders." One way to stop drivers from re-offending is to install ignition interlock devices in their cars. Ignition interlock devices prevent a car from starting if the driver has a "measurable amount of alcohol in their system." According to MADD, these devices have prevented 1.77 million attempts by drivers to get behind the wheel with a BAC of .08 or higher as well as preventing 12.7 million attempts to drive from drivers with at BAC of .025 or higher. Ignition interlock devices also reduce repeat offenses by two-thirds.
Ignition interlock devices are currently required for all offenders in 25 states including Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. For people convicted of a DUI in Washington, there is a mandatory ignition interlock requirement- even for first-time offenders. People caught operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device are subject to a separate criminal charge.
Some states, like Vermont, are considering similar legislation. Rather than giving offenders the option of an ignition interlock device or a longer license suspension, the proposed Vermont bill would require "all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device instead of license suspension." Many state legislatures are seeking to strengthen their ignition interlock laws. For example, in Michigan, the governor just signed into law a bill that updated the state's "regulations on breath alcohol interlock ignition devices." The bill will "close loopholes and toughen licensing requirements for ignition interlock mechanics and businesses," as well as improve oversight of the devices. Other legislatures who are looking to improve their laws include California, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
A conviction for driving under the influence can lead to serious consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, please do not hesitate to contact Wolff Defense. Seattle DUIAttorney Aaron Wolff has extensive experience in defending DUI cases in Washington.