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Ignition breathalyzer measure stalls in Senate committee

A measure to let judges require ignition interlock devices be put on the vehicles of people convicted of DUI ran into a roadblock today as lawmakers expressed concerns about the financial impact on the offender.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, agreed to temporarily postpone consideration of her proposal (SB 796) as she attempts to satisfy the concerns of members of the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bill is intended to affect DUI sentences handed down after Oct. 1, 2013, but Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said the language was confusing and worries had been expressed the law could be retroactively imposed.

The device checks a motorist's breath-alcohol level before allowing a car's engine to be started.

"This is a choice, they can get back to work and we can be assured they are not driving under the influence," Hukill said. "If this works for one person, I think it's worth it."

But opponents said a provision in the bill would eliminate the ability of an offender to take a DUI program to acquire a hardship license. They also noted in South Florida there is only one company available to install the devices.

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, expressed concern that every member of a family would be impacted as the device would have to be installed on every car owned in the name of the offender.

Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, also questioned the cost to the motorist of having the device installed - estimated at $150 per vehicle before insurance adjustments - and noted that 75 percent of first time offenders don't re-offend.

A similar proposal a year ago was approved 109-6 on the House floor but failed to get through the Senate committee process.

This year's House companion (HB 479) has advanced to the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

Source: written by News Service of Florida

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