Connecticut is toughening up its stance on drunk drivers with a new law that took effect at midnight.
It’s designed to even crack down on first-time offenders.
All drivers caught drunk behind the wheel, will be forced to put in an ignition lock that will cost them about $1,000.The group CT Mothers Against Drunk Driving hosted an event to announce the law's implementation.
MADD said the law could affect up to 6,500 first-time offenders.
"This law closes a loophole that allowed some offenders to avoid an ignition interlock," said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. "MADD's top legislative priority is to pass laws that require ignition interlocks for all offenders, because ignition interlocks save lives. This law will now fulfill the commitment to Connecticut residents that the Legislature made back in 2011."
"It's not too strict,” said April Black, a proponent of the law. “I think we should be safe."
Black said the law hits a personal chord. Her cousin and friends were killed by a drunk driver.
"They were going down where you're supposed to get off and the guy went the wrong way and they died instantly,” she explained.
The new law will also force first-time offenders to install the ignition lock device after they get their license back.
"A lot of people don't have that self control, so that gives them that thing they need to adhere to the law," said Bill Ward of Plymouth.
The device requires drivers to blow a breath sample before starting their vehicle. The vehicle won’t start if the driver has a blood-alcohol level of .025 or higher. The legal limit in Connecticut is .08.
"This will save lives, it's been proven in other states, it's been proven in Connecticut. It's a good thing," said Skip Church of MADD.
"The implications of this law are very extreme and people might find themselves in a bad situation if they decide to make a bad choice," said Andres Ayala, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
MADD said states that require interlocks for all offenders have reduced drunk driving fatalities by up to 45 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlocks reduce repeat offenses by 67 percent.
More information about Connecticut's drunk driving laws can be found here.
To learn more about the Ignition Interlock Device Program, click here.
Another law that took effect at midnight, liquor stores will be allowed to stay open for another hour. That means until 10 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sundays.
"We definitely see the change in the clientele from the customers who come in from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the person coming in at 8:30 p.m. to 9p.m. It's definitely a different clientele," said Jim Ransford of CT Beverage Mart.
"It's bad enough that kids can drink at a later hour and it will make it even worse when they're out driving, so I don't think it's good to extend it another hour," said Jesse Brown of Bristol.
There is also a phenomenon surrounding powdered alcohol. Lawmakers have ensured that it will not come to Connecticut. A law was passed that would ban it from any stores.
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