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Law aims to reduce drunken driving

The Boulder City Police Department is unsure how the recently signed bill by Governor Brian Sandoval tightening driving restrictions for those convicted of driving under the influence will work, as it does not become law until next year.

On June 12, Sandoval signed Nevada SB 259, which requires drivers arrested with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher to install and use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle as part of obtaining a restricted driver’s license.

An ignition interlock device works like a Breathalyzer and prohibits a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The device must be installed on every vehicle owned by the offender and be used for 90 days after the arrest and up to six months after a conviction.

Prior to this bill, interlock devices were required for first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.18 or higher.

The law will take effect Oct. 1, 2018.

“If there is a year before it takes effect for enforcement … we will have a breakdown of impacts and enforcement criteria before we need to take action,” said BCPD Chief Tim Shea. “Right now, I really do not have any information on it … any required action on the part of law enforcement would not occur until October 2018. Therefore, until some administrative actions, etc., are set up as required under the bill, I really would be just shooting in the dark on any enforcement issues.”

Shea thinks the interlock devices are still a good idea despite not yet knowing how the law will play out.

“I believe anything we can adopt that puts an extra layer of protection between drivers and the DUI drivers is a good thing,” he said. “I have no doubt that in many cases intoxicated drivers have been kept from driving by the machines. What percentage I would not have the slightest idea. However, even keeping one off the road is a help.”

Shea has worked with interlock devices before when he was in Washington.

“They worked OK in Washington state,” he said. “However, some folks figured out ways to subvert them. Some were pretty ingenious. Mostly having friends who were not intoxicated, or even children riding in the car, blow into the machine. I think there was even a story about someone trying to train an animal to blow into the tube.”

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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