The North Dakota Legislature is considering a new bill that might restore those individuals’ ability to drive by authorizing the installation of an ignition interlock device. The Grand Forks Herald reported that North Dakota’s House Bill 1164 proposes the use of ignition interlock devices as a substitute for the current 24/7 program.

The 24/7 program mandates twice daily breath alcohol testing at the local sheriff’s office, as well as possible ankle monitoring or urine testing. Under the new ignition interlock program, a device similar to a Breathalyzer is installed on the vehicle’s dashboard and requires the driver to exhale into the device, testing the driver’s blood alcohol level before starting the vehicle. The plan provides for license reinstatement as an exchange for participation in the program.

Nationally, the ignition interlock program is gaining acceptance. Interest groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have promoted the devices and urged North Dakota to pass the bill. The bill’s passage might help those who have been convicted for DUI because it provides more flexibility in the type of program used to obtain license reinstatement. For example, an individual from Colorado was convicted on a DUI charge, obtained a license with ignition interlock, and then moved to North Dakota. They were then unable to obtain a North Dakota license because Colorado does not recognize the 24/7 program.

The proposed bill might provide defendants a new option for license reinstatement. A criminal defense lawyer familiar with DUI cases might be able to help those with past or current charges assess whether the ignition interlock program would be appropriate for his or her situation.