Ignition Interlock Bill for First-time DUI Offenders Fails in MA Senate

On April 25, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill designed to make roads less dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and car occupants alike. Safety changes to be implemented include additional passing laws, decreased speed limits, and requiring state-owned vehicles to have corvex and crossover mirrors installed.

While each of these changes is a positive step toward enhancing road safety, the Senate once again refused to pass part of the bill that would have expanded the use of ignition interlock devices to include first-conviction drunk drivers. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed in vehicles. Just like a standard a breathalyzer, drivers blow into the device, which then measures the amount of alcohol in their system. If a preset amount of alcohol is detected, the device temporarily locks the vehicle’s ignition to prevent it from being driven. If multiple tests are taken and failed in a row, the ignition locks for increasing periods of time.

Today, Massachusetts is the only state that does not allow ignition interlocks to be used on first-time DUI offenders. Despite years of pressure to pass similar laws, interlock devices are only required to be used by drivers with hardship licenses and two or more DUI convictions. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, an advocate of the failed bill, does not think this is enough: “one of the most significant things we can do to reduce roadway fatalities… is to implement the use, the further use, of ignition interlocks, particularly for first-time offenders of drunk driving offenses.

Ignition interlock devices are a proven method to method to reduce drunk-driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlock ignition laws decrease subsequent DUI accidents by 67 percent.  According to a 2016 report released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which sent a group of representatives to Beacon Hill in 2009 to support similar legislation, ignition interlock devices have prevented over 240,000 drinking and driving instances in Massachusetts in the past decade.

If passed, Senate Bill 1925 would have required ignition interlock devices to be used for six months after a first-time DUI offender’s license is reinstated.

If you have been involved in a drunken driving accident, call the experienced attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Law today at (619) 391-6001 to discuss your legal options.

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National Bike Month: Avoiding Motorist-Bicyclist Collisions in Nevada

As warmer weather arrives to Nevada, an increasing number of bicyclists can be found on the roads. Because of this, it is critical that drivers and bicyclists alike prioritize traveling safely to minimize the risk of a potentially tragic accident: in recent years, bicyclist deaths have accounted for about two to three percent of all traffic-related deaths in Nevada. On a more positive note, however, Washoe County just implemented a promising bicyclist safety initiative that aims to address this problem.

During the weekend of May 4, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) kicked off National Bike Safety Month by finishing up its Green Bike Stamp initiative. Through this initiative, vibrant green bike lanes were installed on some roads to reduce accidents between drivers and bicyclists. Scott Gibson, the RTC Project Manager, says that they are “putting these [lanes] in to try and enhance and highlight bicycle lanes and bicycle space, particularly in transition zones, so drivers are aware that there may be conflicts with cyclists and make them more aware of looking out for cyclists.” In other words, the new bike lanes are designed to tackle the issue of motorist-bicyclist collisions.

Las Vegas Metro Police Deputy Chief Andy Walsh notes that “there [are] two sides to this issue and it’s the motorists and bicyclists that have to really work together if we’re going to have an impact on this.” On that note, there are a number of preventative measures that motorists and bicyclists can follow to share the roads safely

Motorists

  • Give bicyclists a three-foot distance
  • Move into a separate lane if possible
  • Slow down and abide by traffic laws
  • Be extra cautious while traveling through an intersection
  • Use signals before turning

Bicyclists

  • Follow the same street rules at cars and abide to traffic laws
  • Use a bicycle lane whenever one is available
  • Get off your bicycle and walk it across crosswalks
  • Wear a properly fitted helmet
  • Add reflectors and lights to your bike and wear reflective clothing if riding at night
  • Travel in the direction of traffic
  • Use your hand to signal when you will be turning

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