Wisconsin’s legislature has proposed a change in the statutory limits that require Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) for individuals caught drunk driving. Currently, the state requires the use of an IID by first time offenders if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above 0.15 or their drunk driving caused injury to others.
First time OWI offenders with a BAC between 0.08-0.15 are less commonly taken to trial. Changing the limit to include all those found guilty of OWI (0.08 or higher BAC) would likely increase the amount of OWI cases being litigated. Having an IID installed and maintained in a vehicle costs around $1000.00 per year. Aside from the great expense, employers will often fire OWI offenders because of their inability to operate company machinery, cars, or rental cars. Individuals are much more likely to fight an OWI when their job is on the line.
An OWI is a civil forfeiture for first time offenders in Wisconsin. Regardless of whether an IID is required, the associated costs and ramifications of this civil citation are still very costly. It is well understood by Wisconsin drivers that an OWI is an expensive mistake. Whether requiring IIDs for all first time offenders will serve as an effective means of deterrence to drunk driving, is yet to be seen.
Nathan J. Dineen