Ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders could be coming to Nevada

Ignition interlock mandates for first time DUI offenders could be coming to Nevada. 5/17/17 (Heather Mills | KSNV)

Nevada could soon become the 29th state with mandatory ignition interlock devices for first-time drunk drivers.

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction. Senate Bill 259 would impose stricter regulation on first time DUI offenders, mandating ignition interlocks for 185 days.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate but must pass the Assembly Judiciary Committee by Friday.

Right now, Nevada requires judges to order first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .18 to have an ignition interlock for at least a year. But, for first time DUI offenders between .08-.17, judges can choose to order interlock for three to six months. This law would mandate it for six months.

Don Miller III’s family wonders if stronger laws could have kept him alive. He was hit and killed by an accused drunk driver while riding his motorcycle home from work on Mother’s Day, 2017.

James Vermillion, 34, has been convicted of 4 DUI’s in the last seven years.

Debbie Zelinski, a program coordinator for the Northern Nevada MADD chapter said this bill; Senate Bill 259; will change that. She said, “50% of the people that are suspended will drive anyway.” This bill would keep anyone with booze on their breath from being able to drive. “This is the best option we have and it’s a great option,” she said.

Senator Mark Manendo is behind the bill.

Zelinski said interlock devices have already proven effective.

“It has stopped over 6,000 attempts to drive here in the state of Nevada in the last decade," said Zelinski.

Miller said he can’t believe it’s taken this long. That he’s surprised Vermillion was still driving, “It just blows my mind. I think after your first DUI you should lose your license and have a breathalyzer.” He added, “It was such a preventable thing. All he had to do was not drink and get behind the wheel.”

Miller said he doesn’t hate Vermillion, but hope he gets help.

“I hope the Lord changes his heart and frees him from alcohol, I truly do," Miller told us.

The family is holding a vigil for Don on Thursday, May 18th at 9 p.m. at the Sonic located at 4260 W. Flamingo. They’re also asking for help with funeral expenses.

The interlock device would cost about $2.50 a day, Zelinski said. It would also be available immediately after someone is arrested on suspicion of DUI, so they don’t have to wait for a court date before they can begin driving. The installation and removal of the device would be free.

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