CLEARFIELD – Representatives from PennDOT, the PA DUI Association, and the Clearfield County DUI Task Force, along with Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., gathered Thursday afternoon at Automart in Clearfield to demonstrate an ignition interlock device.
The demonstration was held in conjunction with the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend, which runs from Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. until Sept. 6 at midnight. According to PennDOT crash statistics, the Labor Day holiday is the fourth highest of the year for alcohol-related crashes.
“This time of year, Labor Day, you’ll see an increase in intoxicated drivers on the roadway,” said Tpr. Bruce Morris of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Ignition interlock devices like the one shown today are required for motorists who wish to drive after their second or subsequent driving under the influence offense in a 10-year period. The interlock requires the driver to blow into a tube before starting his or her vehicle. The interlock will not allow a vehicle to start if the driver has consumed alcohol. Additionally, the driver is tested at random intervals, about three times an hour, while the vehicle is in operation. The operator has six minutes after being alerted of a test to provide a sample. If the ignition interlock device detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start the next time it is shut off. Currently, more than 5,700 Pennsylvania residents have the interlock installed on their vehicles. Every vehicle registered in the offender’s name has to have an ignition interlock device.
According to Cathy Tress of the PA DUI Association, it costs roughly $1,000 to have an ignition interlock device installed. The cost is on the DUI offender. Once the device is installed, is has to be taken in for regular checkups. During these checkups, data from the ignition interlock device is downloaded and checked.
In 2009, more than 47,000 attempts to drive while impaired were stopped in Pennsylvania due to the interlock device.
Tress said that last year 453 people were killed in Pennsylvania in drinking driver crashes. Of those fatalities, 20 occurred in the nine-county region that makes up PennDOT’s District 2.
“That’s still four hundred and fifty-three more people than there should be,” commented Morris.
Officer Dan Farley of the Clearfield Borough Police Department and Clearfield County DUI Task Force, said drivers can expect DUI details from the task force over the holiday. The task force consists of officers from all police departments in Clearfield County, and is funded federall. According to Tress their are 50 municipal DUI task forces across the state.
“We had a total of 344 total DUI cases last year,” said Shaw. The DA laid out what the consenquences are of getting arrested for driving under the influence.
“A first-time offender with a mid-level BAC will pay a fine of between $1,500 and $1,800 in fines and costs.
“A second-time offender with a mid-level BAC will pay a fine between $750 and $5,000 and will end up doing 30 days in jail. Your drivers license will be suspended for two years, unless you agree to pay the cost of installing an ignition interlock device.
“A third-time offender with a high BAC is going to state prison for a minimum of one year and will be fined up to $10,000.
“If you kill someone because you’re DUI, you’re going to do a minimum of three years in state prison and face a serious fine when you’re released. Not to mention the terrible, terrible burden you place on your family and the family of the victims.”
For more information on ignition interlock and im through the paired driving enforcement, visit www.DriveSafePA.org. To check out what ignition interlock devices are available in Pennsylvania, check ou the PA DUI Association’s Web site.