Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Try To Fool Your Ignition Interlock

Most people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) wouldn’t even dream of trying to get around their ignition interlock device. Tampering with a court-ordered ignition interlock can result in a felony on your record in some states, or at the very least, you could spend some time in jail or pay hefty fines for trying to interfere with the device.

That’s why it’s so unbelievable that a few offenders have recently been arrested and charged with having their children blow into their ignition interlock devices. Nicole Montez, a 42-year-old minnesota-dwi-supreme-court-rulingFountain Hills, Arizona resident, drank alcohol then had her 11-year-old child blow into the device to start the vehicle. She was arrested at her home and submitted to a blood alcohol test that registered .215, more than 2 ½ times the legal limit of .08.

The charges against Montez include aggravated DUI because she had her child under the age of 15 in her vehicle, resisting arrest, one count of interfering with an ignition interlock device, and one count of endangerment during arrest. Unfortunately she’s not the only offender in the news recently for having their child blow into the ignition interlock device.

Robert E.Kitchen Jr. from Millersburg, Pennsylvania is now required to spend 6 months in the Dauphin County Work Release Center after he had his child blow into the ignition interlock device between 15 to 20 times during the period of June to October 2012. He pled guilty to three counts of child endangerment, one charge of tampering with an ignition interlock device, and one count of corruption of minors.

When someone else blows into an ignition interlock device it puts the driver, the passengers, and everyone on the road with them in danger. Having a DUI on record is bad enough, but the penalties that will follow tampering with an ignition interlock definitely aren’t worth the risk.

Mississippi Passes All Offender Ignition Interlock Law

ignition interlockThe state of Mississippi just took another step forward in cracking down on drivers who choose to drive under the influence (DUI). A new DUI ignition interlock law was passed on Tuesday, July 1st requiring all offenders, including first offenders, to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. Although the law went into effect last week, offenders will have time to prepare because the ignition interlock isn’t required to be installed until October 1st.

The crackdown on drinking drivers can’t come a moment too soon for Mississippi. With 203 DUI arrests over the busy holiday weekend alone, law enforcement have their hands full keeping the roads safe. Of 120 crashes during the long weekend, 5 of those were alcohol-related and 7 of those crashes were fatal. There were also 58 people injured in crashes.

In addition to up to 48 hours of jail time, fines up to $1000, and attendance at a driver’s education program, these first time offenders will now be required to use an ignition interlock during their license suspension for at least 90 days. If they have repeat DUI convictions, they’ll need to use the ignition interlock for a period of one year.

Although this law has been in the works since 2013, it was only passed this year after changes were made to the original law. Exceptions were removed and the wording was altered to include all drunk drivers who want to drive during their license suspension. The bonus for Mississippi is that, because of the new law, they can apply for federal funding via a new highway safety program.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out in support of the law and feels it will deter drivers from driving under the influence. Mississippi now joins 22 states with an all-offender ignition interlock law.

The Tide Turns as Strong Ignition
Interlock Laws Sweep The USA

It began with a trickle, and now it’s a tide that is sweeping the country.

In 2005, New Mexico became the first state to require ignition interlocks for all DUI convictions, including first offenses. An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a car from starting if the driver has been drinking.

ignition-interlock-legislation-tidal-waveThe results of New Mexico’s law were dramatic – a 38 percent decline in drunk driving deaths.

Within a couple of years Arizona and Louisiana had followed suit, and deaths from alcohol-related road accidents went down sharply in those states as well. From this trickle came a steady stream of legislation; currently 23 states require interlocks for all offenses.

The wave continues. Now Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Ohio have proposed mandating interlocks for all offenses.

Why is that important? Because if they pass, a majority of U.S. states will now be placing an ignition interlock between impaired drivers and their vehicles every time they offend.interlock-quote-2

The tide will have turned.

And the evidence suggests that the tide is indeed about to turn. Interlock bills like these often pass unanimously or near-unanimously once legislators and the public are aware of their benefits.

Clearly, public sentiment is on the side of strong ignition interlock laws for first-time DUI offenders. Within a few years the rest of the states will catch up and enact similar laws. The lives saved each year will number in the thousands.

But that’s the long term goal. For now, we’re moving toward 25 states. And that’s not half bad.

A Funny News Item … and the
Sad Truth About DUI Enforcement

First, the funny stuff:

Recently in Utah a man pulled into a Wendy’s drive-in window and fell asleep. The next person in line, concluding that the driver had been drinking, did the right thing: he removed the keys from the dashboard and called the police.

wendysWhen awakened the driver, Jeremy Barney, admitted to drinking. In fact, according to the officer’s report he was too drunk even to understand the instructions for the sobriety test that the policeman was unable to give him.

Here’s where it gets less funny:

The news story states that Barney not only had multiple alcohol violations and a revoked license, but he was supposed to have an ignition interlock installed on his car. An interlock prevents a car from starting if a driver fails a breath test due to alcohol.

Barney was a prime candidate for an ignition interlock: judging from his record as described in the Daily Herald, he was someone who needed to be actively prevented from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Because repeat DUI offenders are road accidents waiting to happen.

This arrest (and there was an arrest, and several charges, for the driver) highlights the weak link in the anti-drunk-driving  process: DUI enforcement.
Young driver with bottle in hand sleeps in the car.
It should come as no surprise that the offender was driving with a revoked license. The majority of DUI offenders do just that. And that is the reason ignition interlocks were invented.

Had an interlock been present, Barney would never have been able to drive up to Wendy’s in that condition. An interlock not only tests a driver at the start of a journey, but periodically during the drive, to ensure that the driver doesn’t drink after getting underway.

The question, then, is why did Barney not have an ignition interlock installed? Utah has some tough DUI laws, including fines, jail time, compulsory drug and alcohol assessment, and mandatory interlocks for second DUI offenses. But the sad truth is that too many people ordered to have interlocks don’t get them, and they’re not found out until there’s an arrest — or a death.

Utah needs to close this serious loophole and make sure that people who are ordered to have interlocks installed actually comply with the law.

West Virginia Offers DUI Offenders a Fast Track to an Ignition Interlock

The landscape for DUI offenders in West Virginia is about to change for the better. A new law allows people charged with DUI to join the state’s ignition interlock program immediately, provided they waive their hearing.

An ignition interlock is a device which tests a driver’s breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a certain level.

bigstock-traffic-stop-22175018-900x273In most states, a person charged with DUI can request a hearing to challenge the case immediately. If the hearing is unsuccessful, punishment may include having to drive with an interlock, after a set period of suspension elapses.

The West Virginia law lets offenders who accept the charge skip right to the interlock, instead of losing their license for a period of time.

It might seem counter-intuitive to some: why let DUI offenders drive? But in fact, ignition interlock programs are known to reduce alcohol-related road accidents and fatalities. The reason is that too many
offenders, particularly problem drinkers who pose the worst danger, continue to drink and drive without their licenses.

Ignition interlocks are the proven, practical answer. They prevent an offender from driving if they have been drinking. They also collect data on failed tests, so the authorities can track the progress of the driver’s efforts to adhere to a sobriety program.

The West Virginia DMV says that the effect will be twofold: it will protect other motorists and pedestrians,by keeping impaired drivers off the roads, and also speed up the  offender’s rehabilitation.

Congratulations to West Virginia for making their roads safer.

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