Locking Down Your License if You have a DUI

If you are a first-time DUI offender in the state of Georgia, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

Good news: A newly proposed law says that you don’t have to get your driver’s license suspended if you get a DUI!

Bad news: To avoid getting your license suspended, you’ll need to use an ignition interlock device on your car.

What is an ignition interlock device? An ignition interlock device is a device that is installed in a car that requires you to blow into a Breathalyzer before it will start. If you blow a 0.00 or below whatever the legal limit is, the car will start. You’ll have to blow randomly throughout the drive to ensure that you are not driving while intoxicated, and if you at any point blow over the legal limit, the device will log that entry and an alarm will go off until you turn the car off and provide a clean sample. If you blow over the legal limit, the car will not start and will stay off for a set period of time. It’s very handy!

Building off of House Bill 205, this law gives you an option to choose an “Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit” so that you don’t have to find a way to survive without a driver’s license for a year. Of course, it isn’t as easy as it seems. To get that Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit:

Application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the ALS by the arresting officer through the DS-1205 form, or—in the event of a DS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS; The ALS cannot stem from a motor vehicle accident involving fatalities or serious injuries; The person must be licensed in Georgia and not have any other suspensions, cancellations, or revocations against his or her Georgia driver’s license; If the person holds a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL), he or she must downgrade to a non-commercial Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain and maintain the permit; The person cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit; The person must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the arresting officer at time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and, The person must pay a $25.00 permit fee (http://www.covnews.com/section/163/article/203834/)

The length of time that you must keep the device in your car ranges from 4-12 months and is determined by whether you consent to the chemical test requested by the officer upon your arrest. If you consented to the chemical test, you are only required to have the device installed for 4 months. If you are acquitted of the charge or the charge is dismissed, the device can be removed early and you can get your license back. If you didn’t consent to the chemical test, you are required to have the device installed for 12 months and cannot get the device removed early if you are acquitted or the charge is dismissed.

That sounds like a pretty good deal! What could possibly be the downside to this? How is this “bad news”?

As I said, the good news is that you won’t lose your license. The reason this ignition interlock device isn’t entirely good news is that while it seems like an easy way out, it isn’t. It doesn’t absolve you of the fees or conditions associated with the licensure part of your DUI charge.

Think about it: you must be entirely compliant with the restrictions or else the device will be removed and you’ll lose your driving privileges. If you blow a 0.01 because you rinsed your mouth with mouthwash after breakfast, you probably won’t be arriving at work on time that morning and your probation officer will check the device’s log and see that you tested positive for alcohol one day. Being seen as “non-compliant” does you NO favors in the justice system.

Then, there’s the $25 fee for the Ignition Interlock Limited Permit. After you get that permit, you have to pay $100 to get the device installed in your car. The fees don’t stop there. You have to pay somewhere between $60-$80 per month in device rental, monitoring, and device calibration fees. That’s between $240-$960 in extra fees depending on the period of time you have the device installed. THEN, it’ll cost you between $90-$100 to get the device REMOVED from your car. On top of that, there may be a small reinstatement fee to get your license changed back to a full class C driver’s license. You’ll be spending between $455-$1,193 total throughout the process of having an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit.

Obviously, there’s a massive downside to not losing your driver’s license after your first DUI, hence the “bad news” comment. BUT there’s more good news!

Good news: The ignition interlock device will make your post-DUI life SIGNIFICANTLY easier.

Think about it—your life isn’t going to drastically change like it does when you lose your driver’s license. You’ll still be able to get yourself from point A to point B without having to rely on alternative methods of transportation. You don’t have to wait a year to get your license back and you don’t have to pay $250 to reinstate your license after that time is up. You don’t have to spend a fortune on transportation when friends and family can’t give you a ride—even though bus fares are low and Uber is easy, all those fees add up! You’ll end up paying significantly more money if you decide to have your license suspended than you would if you opted for the Ignition Interlock Limited Permit.

This new law is good news for everyone because it means that you don’t have to put your entire life on hold if you get your first DUI. It gives you the opportunity to go about your day as you always did—it’s a second chance in a way. Of course, this law changes nothing about the punishment for your second or third DUI, but if you just get one DUI, you can get through it without making drastic changes to your routine or making your wallet cry tears of pain. Even with this new change, I would recommend that you avoid getting your first DUI altogether so that you don’t have to worry about losing your license or having an ignition interlock device on your car.

 

Written by: Monica Ruechel

Teen Drivers—Why You Should Fear Them This Summer

Summer: the time known for sun, fun, and AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days. Wait, what?! Atlanta drivers beware—the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the time in which the number of deadly teen car accidents gets significantly higher than at any point in the year. In an article published by the WSAV Staff, Jennifer Ryan from AAA says the number of deadly teen car crashes increases about 15% during these 100 days.

What is the reason for this increase? Ryan says that there is a combination of reasons rather than just one. First, there are more teen drivers on the road. Teens are no longer spending seven hours sitting in classrooms, so they have more free time to drive around during the day. Teen drivers are already 3 times more likely than drivers of other ages to be involved in fatal traffic accidents, so if you increase the number of teen drivers on the road it makes sense that the number of teen accidents increases as well.

Of course, this is not the only factor causing the spike in teen accidents. According to AAA, “speed, seatbelts, and distractions are the three most common factors in deadly teen car accidents” (WSAV). The “speed” factor makes sense because the faster you drive, the harder the impact will be if you were to crash into something. That’s elementary physics. However, speeding is the cause of only 30% of fatal teen car crashes. The next factor is not wearing a seatbelt. If you think about what it’s like to be in a car, any sudden jerk can send your body moving forwards even with a seatbelt. If you have a seatbelt on when you are in an accident, you’re less likely to go flying through your windshield and be severely injured. As of 2015, 60% of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing their seatbelts. However, this is not the primary factor. Distractions are the primary cause of teen accidents which makes sense because teens are addicted to their smart phones and like to pay attention to those phones even when you’re driving. BUT WAIT—Ryan says that cell phones are NOT the primary distraction for teen drivers. The primary distraction is having a passenger in the car—cell phones are only the second cause of distractions! Distractions are the cause of about 60% of teen car accidents. Combine all of these factors with the increase in the number of teen drivers on the road and you have the perfect recipe for a spike in teen accidents.

This would be the moment in the conversation about teens driving that the family comedian would say that since the teens are driving, it’s time to stay off the roads! This is the easiest solution to decreasing the number of teens involved in car accidents. If fewer people are on the roads, there will be fewer accidents!

However, because that option is literally impossible, there are other ways we can work to lessen the blow of the 100 Deadliest Days. As a driving school, 1 ACT Driving Schools will do our part and teach your teen how to be safe on the road through our driving lessons. Unfortunately, our role stops there. Parents, it’s up to you to teach your teens how to be responsible drivers. When you teach them how to drive, teach them how to follow driving laws and stress the importance of these laws in keeping themselves. When you dive with them in the car, practice good driving habits as well. If they see you texting while driving or going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit at all times, they will think these behaviors are okay. Establish rules with your teens about having passengers in the car. If you get them a car, go the extra mile and set up a system that will alert you if they don’t buckle up or if they drive too fast. Do whatever you need to do to keep your teen safe, especially as they take on the open road this summer.

Parents, remember that the safety of your teen driver starts with you, and do your part to make the 100 Deadliest Days a little bit less deadly.

For the full WSAV article: http://wsav.com/2017/06/01/aaa-teen-drivers-three-times-more-likely-to-be-involved-in-fatal-crash/

Written by: Monica Ruechel

DUIs Dropping: Are Uber and Lyft the Culprit?

Attendance in DUI classes across the state has been dropping significantly over the past couple of years. Our school used to average between 15-20 people per class and now we’re lucky if we reach double digits at all. At first, we worried that it was an issue with us, but after talking to other DUI school owners, we realized that this is a common phenomenon across the state. Fewer people enrolled in DUI classes must mean that fewer people are getting DUIs because fewer people are driving under the influence.

We all speculated as to what the cause could be for this phenomenon, and the most common speculation was that the availability of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are eliminating the number of people getting behind the wheel while under the influence. Apparently, this speculation is shared by many, including Channel 2 Action News’s investigative reporter Richard Belcher. Belcher reported his speculations and his findings in an article titled “DUIs in Georgia drop nearly 50%…one reason why might surprise you.”

As I just mentioned, Belcher attributed the drop in the number of DUI convictions to the ease of finding a designated driver at the tap of a finger on a smart phone screen. Instead of having to hail or call a taxi, all you have to do now is open your preferred ride-sharing app, tap a few different things, and a driver will pick you up within minute.

Belcher sat down with Mike Hawkins, a local DUI defense lawyer, to prove his theory. While Hawkins acknowledged the role of Uber and Lyft in the decrease in DUI arrests, he said that ride-sharing services are NOT the deciding factor; rather, the deciding factor is that the city of Atlanta is focusing its attention elsewhere. Atlanta used to have a unit dedicated to enforcing traffic laws, but this unit was essentially disbanded and its responsibilities transferred to all field officers. After this change, the number of DUI arrests in Atlanta dropped 26%. With fewer officers dedicated to solely looking for people driving under the influence, fewer people are getting arrested for driving under the influence.

Atlanta Police Department’s Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier confirmed this in his conversation with Belcher. He said that the department is allocating resources differently to focus on more pressing issues, ranging from the recent collapse of I-85 to the recent increase in violent crime. Harris Blackwood, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said that this is occurring statewide. Police departments all over Georgia are allocating their resources differently, indirectly taking the focus off DUIs. Furthermore, there are fewer police officers in the state than there have been in the past, meaning there are fewer available resources to allocate. If we had a plethora of police officers, having units dedicated to catching people driving under the influence would be no problem.

So there you have it. We’re wrong in believing that Uber and Lyft are reducing the number of people that are driving under the influence and we know this because there are more DUI related traffic accidents now than there have been in previous years. The number of people driving under the influence is not decreasing—it’s the number of DUI arrests that is decreasing. While it feels great to know that business isn’t slow because of anything we’re doing wrong, we would rather have fewer students because people are choosing to take Uber or have a designated driver instead of driving under the influence than have fewer students because fewer people are getting caught diving under the influence. Take advantage of services like Uber and Lyft so that you can protect yourself and others from DUI-related incidences. Let Uber and Lyft be the culprit in reducing the number of DUIs—order yourself a ride and let’s keep those numbers dropping!

Click the following link for Richard Belcher’s full article: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/2-investigates/duis-in-georgia-drop-nearly-50-the-reason-why-might-surprise-you/518240778

Written by: Monica Ruechel