Omaha, Nebraska


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John Inserra
John Inserra
Attorney • (800) 642-1242

Nebraska's Attempt to Keep Drunk Driver's Off the Road

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Recently, the Nebraska legislature passed two bills, LB 497 and LB 736 amended the state statutes to increase the previous consequences for those that drive drunk. Previously, legislation did not penalize first-time DUI offenders by requiring them to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. The interlock device, which is installed in the dash of the vehicle, requires that the driver breath into the device before the car can be started. If the device detects a higher blood-alcohol than is allowed, the car will not start. This device works similarly to the breathalizer that is used by law enforcement officers. With the new legislation, if you get a DUI in Nebraska, even for the first time, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

This legislation was not unprecedented – six other states require the device be installed in the vehicles of first-time DUI offenders. Two of these, Washington and West Virginia, passed legislation just this year. Nebraska’s new legislation was signed by the Governor in May, and took effect in July. Under the new law, a DUI-offender can apply for a limited permit after thirty days, to allow travel to work, school, or to counseling sessions for alcohol treatment. Those penalized under the new law will be required to have an ignition interlock device for 5 months while using the special driver’s permit. If the offender’s BAC was .15% or higher, there is a suspension term of 60 days, after which an offender can apply for a special permit and drive with an interlock device in place for 10 months. There is no distinction between first time offenders and chronic drunk drivers. DUI offenders may also face other penalties – including educational classes or alcohol counseling, or confiscation of the vehicle.

The new legislation was passed unanimously, and was met with obvious support from local and national MADD organizations. It remains to be seen whether the legislation will be met with criticism regarding implementation in the future.