Ignition interlocks law goes into effect July 1, 2009
Mandatory for many drivers convicted of drunken driving
by Wyoming Department of Transportation
July 1, 2009
A new law will make ignition interlock devices mandatory for many drivers convicted of drunken driving in Wyoming beginning July 1.
Ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from starting unless the driver first passes a breath test. The 2009 Legislature made the devices mandatory for six months for anyone convicted of a first driving under the influence offense in which their blood alcohol content is .15 percent or greater. A BAC of .08 is considered drunk under Wyoming law.
Conviction on a second DUI offense at any BAC level will make the device mandatory for a year, and a third offense will bring a two-year requirement.
A fourth conviction carries a lifetime ignition interlock requirement, but the driver is allowed to petition the court to have the device removed after five years.
Wyoming began a voluntary ignition interlock program in 2006 that has resulted in about 520 drivers having the monitoring devices installed on their vehicles.
The new mandatory ignition interlock law could result in a 10-fold increase in the number of devices on Wyoming vehicles.
"If you look at current statistics, the number of people convicted of DUI where their BAC is over .15 or of second, third and fourth offenses in Wyoming could very easily be close to 5,000 mandatory ignition interlock drivers in a year to a year and a half," WYDOT Support Services Administrator Tom Loftin said.
Another new law taking effect July 1 creates an administrative process for suspending the driver license of anyone with unpaid child support in excess of $5,000 who hasnít made any payment in 90 days or more.
In the past it was up to the parent with custody to get a court order to suspend the other parentís license. Because of the time and expense involved in the court process, the department received only a few of those suspension orders in recent years. The new administrative procedure gives the debtor parent the option of appealing the suspension in court.
"With this new approach, weíre just not sure exactly how many people itís going to affect, but there are several thousand in the state who essentially meet this basic criteria of owing more than $5,000 and not making any payment for 90 days," Loftin said.
Also beginning July1, the potential fine for commercial trucks traveling more than 5 mph above the speed limit will increase to $300 from the current $100.
"I do hope this provides a deterrent for the drivers of those types of vehicles to say, ĎIn Wyoming we need to pay attention to our speed,í" Patrol Col. Sam Powell said. "If we end up not writing a single ticket for this because all the commercial vehicles are traveling at a safe speed then the law has done what we hoped it would do."
The higher fine only applies to large commercial trucks, not delivery vans, recreational vehicles or pickups pulling trailers. The large trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds or more and canít stop or maneuver as quickly as other vehicles on the highways. "We need to do everything we can to impress upon the drivers of these vehicles that they need to hold their speed down to the legal limit and keep it safe for everybody out there," Powell said.