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Asked/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at www.cumberlink.com.

Does the new ignition interlock device law affect first time DUI offenders who were under the influence of controlled substances?

Yes.

On Friday, a new law that changes the penalties involved with DUI convictions went into effect.

The law aims to make the roads safer by expanding the use of ignition interlock devices for people convicted of a DUI offense.

The law provides more opportunities for people convicted of a DUI to drive on Pennsylvania roadways legally, but does so in a way to prevent them from driving while intoxicated.

Under previous state law, anyone convicted of a DUI where the blood alcohol content was 0.10% or higher, or the defendant was under the influence of controlled substances, was subject to a driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Defendants convicted of a second or subsequent offense where the defendant’s blood alcohol content was 0.08 to 0.099% are also subject to a license suspension.

The new law allows people who have had their license suspended for a DUI conviction or a refusal to submit to a blood test when suspected of DUI to receive a new ignition interlock limited license.

The license would allow the person to drive only vehicles equipped with an ignition interlock device, which checks for the presence alcohol in the driver’s system before allowing them to operate the vehicle.

Drivers must have a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device before the license can be granted.

Do ignition interlock systems detect the presence of controlled substances?

No.

Current ignition interlock systems, and field sobriety testing equipment used by law enforcement, are limited to testing for alcohol.

Companies like Draeger, which develops a host of products including ignition interlock systems, has released a field test that is meant to detect the presence of controlled substances in a person.

Unlike the alcohol test, which many call Breathalyzers, the Draeger system uses saliva from a mouth swab.

The system is in limited use in the United States and Europe, but generally has a price tag of several thousand dollars.

With the expansion of legalized marijuana, and growing concerns over drugged driving, companies have begun developing devices that operate more like traditional Breathalyzers.

That technology, however, is still under development.

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Shoot us an email at frontdoor@cumberlink.com, call 240-7125 or stop by the office to submit your questions.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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