Change to Conn. DUI law targets first-time offenders

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – On the governor’s desk is a proposed change to the state’s DUI law that would require first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.

Under the current law, it’s only mandated for repeat offenders. The device makes a person pass a breathalyzer test before they can start the car.

In the final hours of the legislative session Wednesday, the state House and the state Senate voted unanimously to approve the update to the law.

(MORE: Read Connecticut’s DUI law)

Skip Church’s 18-year-old son Dustin was killed by a drunk driver 10 years ago.

“What we chose to do was to get involved and try to make sure that families don’t have to suffer through what we’ve suffered through for so long.” Church said.

“Having an ignition interlock device on their car will allow them to continue their lives because suspensions have been shortened but it will also keep the rest of us safe.”

Photos of people who perished from drunk drivers line the walls of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in East Haven. There were 85 more last year.

“In the states where there are all-offender interlock devices such as in New Mexico, there’s a 40 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities,” said Janice Heggie Margolis, who helped to found MADD 30 years ago.

The Centers for Disease Control says that prior to their first arrest, many drunk drivers have been drunk driving as many as 80 times.

Margolis said she’s been assured that Malloy will approve the change. The governor’s office says it’s still mulling it over. The update to the state’s DUI law, if passed, would take effect July 1, 2015.

Mark Davis reporting

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