Bill requiring interlock devices in OWI offender's cars makes headway

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) -- A big change could be coming for OWI convictions in Iowa.

Legislation in the Senate would require all offenders to have ignition interlock devices, which are similar to a breathalyzer, in their vehicle.

The bill passed the House with a unanimous 9-0 vote.

"It's a practical solution to a longstanding problem that's long overdue,” said attorney Robert Rehkemper, with Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm.

Rehkemper said current license restrictions that only allow driving to and from work are impractical, especially in rural Iowa.

“It was digging people in holes they could not get out of,” the attorney said.

“I had a client who was a widow (and) mother of five,” Rehkemper said. “She couldn't take her kids to school. She couldn't go to the grocery store. She couldn't do any of that.

Ultimately, she gets pulled over with her kids in the car at her husband's grave, cleaning up the grave.”

Republican Rep. Jarad Klein, who is the bill's floor manager, said since many OWI offenders with restricted licenses end up driving anyway, adding ignition interlock devices to the mix will ultimately make things safer.

“They're gonna be able to drive their own vehicles,” Klein said. “They'll have insurance and the public will have the safety guarantee that they'll have this device in their vehicle to make sure they're not driving impaired.”

Klein also expects the bill to reduce the burden on Iowa's criminal justice system.

Estimates show that by next fiscal year, taxpayers could save more than $900,000 dollars and around $1.8 million in 2020.

View the original story on KCCI's website.