Massachusetts looking to change DUI penalty

By Bianca Buono

bbuono@abc6.com

@BiancaBuono

A law went into effect early this year in Rhode Island that aims to keep drunk drivers off the roads. Judges can require a convicted drunk driver to blow into a breathalyzer to start their car.

Technology makes something as simple as starting a car not so simple for a drunk driver.

"Somebody has to blow into the device that’s attached to it at a certain interval and the car will start if they don’t have a measurable amount of alcohol in their breath,” said Eric Creamer, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Rhode Island.

That small device is making a big difference on the roads.

"If you look at certain states that have started the process down in the southwestern part of the country, they’ve seen their drunk driving offenses go down by a third,” said Creamer.

Creamer expects Rhode Island to follow suit. As of right now, not all Rhode Island drivers convicted of a DUI are required to use the device. It’s only for repeat offenders and someone who has a blood alcohol content that’s double the legal limit.

"Statistics will show that someone has driven drunk 80 times before they’re actually caught,” said Creamer.

Massachusetts is now trying to take the use of ignition interlock to another level by proposing that instead of a suspended license, anyone convicted of a DUI must use the breathalyzer device. Creamer, along with his organization, hopes Rhode Island will do the same.

"That’s probably our number one issue that we really want to try to promote for the next session 2016 certainly,” Creamer says.

The length of time someone has to keep the device in their car depends on their sentence.

Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York all have mandatory ignition interlock for all offenders.

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