May 2022 Update on Ignition Interlock Removals

Earlier this year, I wrote about one of my cases, Schneider v. State, where the Wyoming Supreme Court held, in effect, that when a person otherwise qualifies for removal of a lifetime ignition interlock requirement, the trial court should give that person a hearing where the person can present evidence to support their request. Evidence of “good cause” to remove the ignition interlock requirement.

But, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Today, in Lander, Wyoming, the Wyoming Legislature’s joint judiciary committee met to discuss recent Wyoming Supreme Court cases. And they discussed Schneider. The joint committee expressed unhappiness with folks seeking removal of ignition interlock devices after having many DUI convictions. They also voted unanimously to amend the ignition interlock removal statute to give trial courts the freedom to decide ignition interlock removal requests with or without a hearing, declawing a key holding in Schneider. So it goes.

Now the joint committee’s vote does not unilaterally change the law, but it is a clear harbinger of the way things will likely play out when the full legislature meets. I expect the law to change to undermine the hearing requirement recognized by the Wyoming Supreme Court in Schneider.

The joint committee came to this decision without much information on interlock requirements. No one present could speak cogently about the financial impacts of having an interlock device (about $150-$200 per month for the device plus mandatory SR-22 insurance premiums). And there was no discussion of the efficacy of interlock devices, other traffic safety issues presented by interlock devices (drivers must blow no matter the traffic conditions or risk their vehicles shutting down), or recidivism rates of people with high numbers of DUIs after imposing lifetime ignition interlock requirements. Further, the joint committee did not address the serious impediment lifetime ignition interlock requirements presents to a person when they seek gainful employment (a person with a lifetime ignition interlock requirement already has a felony conviction, disqualifying them from many jobs).

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen what will come of lifetime ignition interlock requirements and Wyoming’s removal process.

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