The final push for stricter OWI laws


KIMT NEWS 3 – Tuesday is the final day Iowa legislators are getting paid, so wrapping up important business is top priority.

One national committee is pushing for stricter laws on first time OWI offenders.

One senator tells us the House of Representatives and Senate both passed their own versions of the bill so a committee needs to work out the differences.

The conversations include making ignition interlocks standard in vehicles of first time offenders.

“I think that anytime you know, you can put something like this into the code, you need to have this device if you’ve committed this offense obviously it’s going to make it safer to keep you know potential repeat offenders from doing this again,” says State Representative Josh Byrnes.

The device is essentially a breathalyzer which requires a driver to blow into it before he or she can put it into gear.

“The vehicle won’t start unless somebody blows through the straw analyzes there blood their breath alcohol content to make sure they have not been drinking any alcoholic beverages,” says Cerro Gordo county Sheriff Pals.

And to keep the motor running, they would be required to blow into to periodically.

The national organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is doing all they can to get a law in the books requiring most first time offenders to have an ignition interlock installed immediately.

They say the current system isn’t working because only a piece of paper is sitting between a drunk driver and the ignition.

“License suspension, it’s a 1990’s approach that is just a hope for the best mentality, you know hope that the convicted drunk driver is not driving while their licenses taken away well we are seeing that up to 75% of the time offenders will drive on a suspended license the interlock every time an offender starts the interlock here she must prove their sobriety,” says MADD spokesperson Frank Harris.

But will Iowa legislators have enough time to go over the differences in the house and senate’s bills?

“Right now we’re at that part in the session where there is a lot of negotiations going on back and forth on conference committees and so I would guess this is one of those bills that is being talked about between the two chambers in terms of what passed or what’s the final product they can agree upon and what will look like,” says Byrnes.

As this legislative session comes to an end, we will find out soon enough if Iowa will see this becoming law.

Minnesota has had a similar law in place since 2011.

If a first time offender is caught driving with a blood alcohol level of .16 or higher, they are required to have this device in their vehicles.

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