Alabama DUI Pretrial Diversion Programs May Soon Require Ignition Interlock Installation


Alabama DUI Pretrial Diversion Programs May Soon Require Ignition Interlock Installation

The ignition interlock lobby is at it again in the Alabama Legislature.  Senate Bill 1, introduced in the Alabama Senate during the 2018 general legislative session, seeks to expand the scope of ignition interlock mandates in Alabama DUI cases.

For a few years now, Alabama law has mandated that those convicted of second and subsequent DUI offenses are to be sentenced to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles.  Current law also requires that some first time DUI offenders must have an ignition interlock installed.  However, Alabama’s current DUI statute only requires an ignition interlock for those who have been convicted.  Thus, for ignition interlock providers, under the current law, a DUI conviction avoided through a pretrial diversion program means revenue lost.

Senate Bill 1 would change pretrial diversion from a money loser to a money maker for ignition interlock providers by forcing those who opt to take part in a DUI pretrial diversion program to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle.  These persons would be required to have an ignition interlock for the length of the diversion program or six months, whichever is longer.  This means more money out of the pockets of those participating in already expensive pretrial diversion programs.  It means the embarrassment and hassle that comes along with having to obtain a new ignition interlock restricted driver license.  It means the hassle of having to make repeated trips to the ignition interlock provider.  And, of course, it means more money in the pocket of ignition interlock manufacturer and providers.  Ironically, it may even lead to decreased revenue for the State.  You see, DUI pretrial diversion programs are revenue generators for the State and local governments.  The onerous nature of ignition interlock may actually lead to a decrease those willing to accept pretrial diversion offers, in turn, leading to a drop in revenue generated by these programs.

When Senate Bill 1 was first introduced in the Senate, it was written in a way that would make the ignition interlock requirement for DUI pretrial diversion a permanent feature of the law.  Curiously, it has since been amended so that this requirement would be removed from the DUI statute after 5 years.  This is very odd indeed.  As it stands, Senate Bill 1 has already passed the Senate and is currently in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Frank Ward