A bill that would reduce the charge for sober drivers with a DUI conviction who are pulled over without their required ignition interlock device advanced on a 25-0 vote March 20. The bill, which seeks to reduce the charge for sober driving without an ignition interlock device from a felony to a misdemeanor, is reportedly intended to address emergency situations in which a driver may have to take a different vehicle to get to work or an appointment.
According to the bill’s sponsor, a senator from Wilber, a felony charge is too harsh for a sober driver who doesn’t have the interlock device in the car. In other circumstances, a driver could get two additional DUIs and not be charged with a felony. The original laws were expanded over concerns that individuals who had been convicted on DUI charges were driving with their licenses suspended.
The current law allows drivers to install the devices in their cars in order to go to community service, medical appointments, alcohol treatment, school, and work. A driver convicted of DUI who is required to drive with an interlock device who is stopped with a BAC exceeding .02 percent may still be charged with a felony if the new measure is passed.
The measure is intended to balance the need to punish offenders while being considerate of unusual or emergency situations. It requires two more votes before it can be sent to the governor’s office.
Nebraska’s DUI statutes are subject to change on a regular basis. A Nebraska criminal defense attorney could explain changes to DUI laws to someone who is facing driving under the influence charges. Additionally, recent changes to DUI laws may influence an attorney’s defense strategy. If a defendant does not want to go to trial, a plea bargain might be a good alternative, depending on the circumstances of the case.