Wyoming House Passes In-Car Breathalyzer Bill

By Marjorie Korn | March 5, 2009

The Wyoming House of Representatives approved a bill to mandate in-car breathalyzers for some convicted drunken drivers.

Senate File 88 was one of three DUI bills proposed during the session, but the only one to make it through both chambers.

Ignition interlocks prevent cars from starting if a driver’s breath test detects any alcohol. Experts say the devices target repeat offenders who are the most dangerous drunken drivers on the road.

Under the proposed law, the devices would be required for first-time offenders arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or more and for all repeat offenders.

The House amended the bill to close a potential loophole for drunken drivers who refuse to take a sobriety test. Under current law, drivers who refuse testing on their first offense have their licenses suspended for six months. The amendment would give those drivers the option of installing an ignition interlock and allowing them to drive on a restricted license.

The locks cost about $110 to install and $70 per month. The original bill would have fully subsidized devices for poorer offenders. But the House amended the bill to require poorer offenders to split the cost with the state.

In a prior debate, the House amended the bill to give judges more discretion to choose how long a convicted drunken driver must use an ignition interlock device.

A conference committee made up of legislators from both the House and Senate must agree on amendments before the bill can go to Gov. Dave Freudenthal for his signature.

“I think we’ll be able to come up with an agreement that will be satisfactory with everyone,” said Rep. Debbie Hammons, D-Worland, the legislation’s sponsor.

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