Harsher Penalties for DUI

With the beginning of a new year always comes new changes to the law. One of the more impactful changes this year comes in harsher penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Beginning January 2019, if you are convicted of even a first offense DUI, you will be required to install an interlock device on your car for a full year. This penalty starts at the conclusion of your driver’s license suspension that the court orders. Thus, adding an additional expense to an already costly offense. (Think - SR-22 insurance, reinstatement fees, jail, loss of work and license suspension making it difficult to work).

Idaho Code §18-8002(12) provides a small way out of the interlock device. You may petition the court for relief from the interlock device, but must prove to the court by clear and convincing evidence that:

  1. You will not present a danger to the public; or
  2. That there are exceptional or mitigating circumstances demonstrating that the installation of the device is unnecessary or unwarranted.

Clear and convincing evidence is a very high standard of proof. And the statue provides that “financial hardship standing alone, is not an exceptional or mitigating circumstance." Thus, proving the requirements of this provision will not be easy.

While it is unknown at this time what will work, one of the ways I will be trying to meet this burden of proof, is to have my clients obtain an alcohol evaluation prior to sentencing. If the evaluation shows my client is in the low risk range and it is a first offense, and their breath test results were low, that may be enough to prove they are not a present danger.

“I warn that beginning January of 2019 everyone convicted of a DUI, even first time offenders, will be required to install an interlock device," Attorney John E. Cutler advised. "This new penalty adds to what is already one of the most costly misdemeanor offenses. DUI’s penalties include fines, jail time, license suspension, reinstatement fees and probation. These cost impact not only your bank account but impact your ability work, to get around and your relationships with others. The new interlock requirement only adds to these penalties and collateral damage that greatly impact your life. At the Cutler Law Office, P.A. we use our experience and hard work hard to find ways to avoid or mitigate these penalties.”