EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 23, 2013

N.H. considers letting first time DWI offenders stay on road

N.H. to debate limited privileges

(Continued)

Interlock systems aren’t easy on drivers.

Bob Letourneau, a former legislator from Derry, monitors the program for the state.

Letourneau said two vendors provide systems in New Hampshire, with the average monthly cost about $70.

“We broke it down to about $2.40 a day,” he said. “That’s less than the cost of one drink.”

Under current law, first-time offenders can lose their right to drive for nine months, but that can be reduced to 90 days if they complete a substance abuse program, as well as consent to any after-care requirements.

The law mandates interlock devices for second offenders or those convicted of aggravated drunken driving, which is defined as 0.16 or higher.

“The people who have them are not the choir boys,” Letourneau said.

Car-Tunes Etc. of Derry installs the Intoxalock device made by Consumer Safety Technology.

“No one likes to use them,” owner Bob Brien said.

Consider work. Stevens said it can be tough to close a sale when someone has to tell a client the car won’t start until they blow into the interlock system.

“No one wants one in their own car,” Stevens said.

People worry whether mouthwash, which sometimes contains alcohol, will trigger the system, he said.

But Stevens credits interlock systems with cutting down on instances of operating after revocation, when people drive because they feel they have no choice.

What will be key to watch is what criteria lawmakers or state officials would tie to hours that first-time offenders can drive, he said.

“It will be interesting to see how they impose it, whether there will be a standard number of hours a day or something outside that window,” Stevens said.

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