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1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 110
Lititz, PA 17543
Phone:  (717) 626-1776
FAX:  (717) 626-4234

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PO Box 202097
Harrisburg PA 17120-2097
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House Considers Legislation to Toughen DUI Offenses
Earlier this month a House committee endorsed a measure designed to help keep drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol off the highway. The House Transportation Committee approved Senate Bill 290, which would make the ignition interlock program mandatory for first time offenders with high blood alcohol levels. While ignition interlocks have been required for second-time DUI offenders since 2003 in Pennsylvania, increasing their use to first time offenses proves effective.

An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a cell phone that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Individuals are required to blow into the device, and if it detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. Interlocks are a simple and economical way to allow DUI offenders to continue earning a livelihood and supporting their families, but also ensure that they cannot drive drunk.

Current penalties for offenders have proven to be ineffective in stopping repeat offenses. DUIs represent over 30 percent of all criminal cases in Lancaster County—by far the most prosecuted crime. One-third of those cases are for repeat offenders, meaning 10 percent of all criminal cases in our county are for repeat drunk drivers. And these crimes are not without consequence, as in the past several years, 91 out of 270 fatal vehicle accidents were caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol. Sadly, fines and licenses suspensions have proven not to be the deterrent some had hoped for.

To date, 25 states currently require the use of ignition interlock systems for all DUI offenders. According to a recent study on drunk driving by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, over 12 million drunk-driving attempts have been stopped nationwide with the use of ignition interlock devices. The study also shows that states with strong ignition interlock laws have decreased drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 60 percent.

Drunk driving is a completely preventable crime that all too often ends in tragic circumstances. I hope that the General Assembly will move forward with consideration of this ignition interlock legislation to prevent future senseless heartache for families who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver.

By State Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)

Representative Steven Mentzer
97th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Eric Reath
717.260.6187 /
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