I do not advocate drunk driving. It is clearly unsafe for the driver and for everyone who shares the road with the driver. However, a POLITICO article reports that the United States Congress is trying to legislatively coerce states to require the installation of a vehicle interlock device on the cars of everyone who is convicted a driving under the influence. This would include first time offender, who may have never had any contact with the criminal justice system. The Congress is able to force states to amend their own statutes by threatening to take away 5 percent of their regularly allocated safety money if they fail to enact this legislation.
As a criminal defense attorney in Orlando, and someone who defends DUI cases on a daily basis, this proposal seems over the top and completely takes away the discretion from our Judges. Not all DUI’s are created equally and should not be treated the same.
In law school we are taught that the Judges are the ones who fashion sentences. This type of legislation would further take away what little discretion Judges have on DUI cases. If based on the facts and circumstances a Judge feels that a first time offender needs the vehicle interlock device, then they should order it, but it does not seem like a necessary requirement for everyone who is convicted on this charge.