- Associated Press - Friday, January 23, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Minot Republican has proposed amending the state’s “24/7” sobriety program to include the use of ignition interlock devices that prevent someone who is drunk from starting a vehicle, in part to accommodate a constituent whose conviction in another state requires him to use the device.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Andrew Maragos would allow someone convicted of multiple drunken driving offenses to use the devices instead of showing up at a law enforcement station twice a day to blow into a device to prove they’re sober, or having to wear an ankle bracelet to track their sobriety in real time.

Ignition interlock devices usually require drivers to blow into a tube to prove they are not intoxicated before they can start the engine.

Maragos told the House Transportation Committee on Friday that he is sponsoring a bill because a constituent - a former Colorado resident with a drunken driving conviction there - can’t get a North Dakota driver’s license because North Dakota does not use the devices required by Colorado law.

Committee members questioned whether Maragos’ legislation would address his constituent’s problem.



Mark Nelson, the state Transportation Department’s deputy director for driver and vehicle services, said it likely wouldn’t. He said the state’s 24/7 sobriety program is not “recognized at the national level” and has no reciprocity agreements with state’s that require ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders.

Nelson, former head of the state Highway Patrol, said North Dakota’s sobriety program “is doing what we want to accomplish” to combat drunk driving.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed legislation two years ago that strengthened penalties for drunken driving in North Dakota, including increasing fines and other penalties. The law also requires mandatory participation in the sobriety program for repeat offenders.

The 24/7 sobriety program was started as a pilot project in 2007. State data show almost 10,000 people have participated in the program since then, including about 1,700 at present.

Data show that almost 2,100 people have either failed to graduate from the program or have re-offended.

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