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Convicted of a DUI? You will Need an Ignition Interlock Device in Rhode Island

Starting Jan. 1, Rhode Island judges and magistrates will have the authority to prohibit drivers convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence, or those who refused a chemical test, from driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock system. According to a news report in The Providence Journal, the new law requiring an ignition interlock device for those with prior DUIs goes into effect on New Year's Day.
An ignition interlock system is a device that is wired to a vehicle's ignition that requires a driver to breathe into the device. It is similar to a Breathalyzer in that the driver blows into it prior to starting the vehicle. The system prevents a motorist from being able to start the vehicle if it detects alcohol on the driver's breath.

Reducing DUI Offenses

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that passed interlock laws saw an average two-thirds reduction in repeat DUI offenses. Once the law becomes effective, Rhode Island will join 20 other states across the country that have similar measures in place. Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(MADD), the group that advocates for DUI victims and their families, has also supported the legislation as a way of preventing drunk driving and underage driving.

Anyone can have an ignition interlock system installed in his or her vehicle. For example, parents may install a system in their young driver's vehicle for his or her safety. In other cases, a court may require one to be installed in any vehicle that is driven by someone who has been convicted of driving under the influence.

Dangerous Consequences

Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other types of intoxicants is illegal under Rhode Island law. The law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, DUI collisions do occur in Rhode Island. According to MADD's statistics, drunk driving fatalities accounted for 38 percent of total traffic deaths in Rhode Island in 2012. There were 98 injuries reported as a result of DUI collisions and 2,533 DUI arrests were made during the same year. DUI collisions often result in severe, even fatal, injuries. These tragedies are entirely preventable.

Protecting Victims' Rights

In addition to facing criminal charges, DUI drivers can be held civilly liable for the injuries, damages and losses they cause. A criminal conviction may offer some amount of restitution for victims or their families. But, it is only through a civil personal injury lawsuit that victims and families can hope to recover fair and full compensation for their injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering, permanent injuries and emotional distress. Families of deceased crash victims can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party seeking compensation. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to advise victims or their families in such cases regarding their legal rights and options.