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First-offense DUI: How much would ignition interlock cost?

Alcohol is a part of life at Penn State. Whether you are a student exploring your newfound freedom from your parents or a die-hard Nittany Lions sports fan, there is a good chance you will sip on an ice cold beverage at a game. Of course, you have to get to the stadium, arena or court and back home again.

The truth is that alcohol doesn't always prompt the best choices. Yeah, it can help contribute to mistakes. What happens if you are arrested for drunk driving?

A first-time DUI offense in Pennsylvania has some pretty harsh penalties, both criminal and collateral. In May 2016, the governor of Pennsylvania signed a bill amending the penalties for first time conviction of Drinking Under the Influence for offenders with a blood alcohol content higher than .10 percent.

The new law provides first-time offenders with an option to use an ignition interlock device. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends.

When is an ignition interlock device required or an option?

For a first-offense DUI, you could have ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle after a six-month drivers license suspension. You would be required to use the device for a year after installation.

Previously, first time offenders had their license suspended for a full year, however there was no monitoring upon reinstatement, which raised concern for some.

This new option would allow you the chance to regain your personal freedom without having to pay for busses, taxis, or constantly ask for transportation from friends and family six months earlier than before.

It is not a free ride, however. You would be responsible for the provisional license fee, the cost of the device and the installation.

How much does it cost?

You can expect to pay between $70 and $150 for installation of the device on your car. There will be a $65 fee to PennDOT for the special license. Finally, you have to lease or buy the unit. It can cost between $80 and $100 per month. Remember, you could have to use the device by law for a full year from date of installation.

If that sounds like a high price to pay to be able use your own car, just think of how much it costs to take a taxi across town or across the county for a single trip. If you work late nights, how difficult would it be to get somebody to give you a lift home at midnight? If you are unable to get to your job, it might not matter how much the device is costing you. You might see installing the device as a way to carry on with your life with minimal intrusion and reduce the cost of losing your license. Of course, monetary expense isn't the only cost to consider.

How does it work?

The device is essentially a breathalyzer that is wired into your car's ignition. In order to start the engine, you must first blow into the unit and have a blood alcohol level below the point set by the state. The unit does not recognize if there are passengers in the vehicle with you, so yes it can be awkward and embarrassing to use the device at times. The device then sends data to the State for active monitoring.

If you are in a situation where you must decide which options will best work for you regarding a first time DUI offense, it is a good idea to take into consideration all aspects and try to fight for the best outcome possible.

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