Tag: Ignition Interlock

license suspension isn't enoughInsanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That makes license suspension for DWI pretty crazy.

Ronnie Lee Welch is today’s example. Recently he was charged with his 16th DWI in Gaston County. The judge, fed up with punishments that weren’t having effect, decided to stop the craziness and sentence Welch to 10 years in prison.

The punishments that weren’t having effect were suspensions. In fact, Welch hadn’t had a license in 20 years. But that didn’t stop him from driving, and driving while drunk.

One of the strange little secrets in the world of road safety and drunk driving is that license suspension is not effective for stopping drunk driving. Statistics tell us that half to three-quarters of drivers whose licences are pulled will drive anyway.

It’s not hard – just get in the car and drive. And if they are drunk, they will drive drunk, unlicensed and uninsured, just the way Ronnie Lee Welch did for 20 years.

Ignition interlocks were invented because of offenders like Welch. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Normally an interlock is required for 1 year, 3 years, or 7 years – the latter in cases where restoration is allowed after a permanent revocation. But some states have provisions for a permanent ignition interlock, which might have been another option here.

Would it have worked? Are there some cases that are too far gone even for an ignition interlock, ones for which only prison is appropriate? Perhaps. Every spectrum of human behavior has its extremes. But there are offenders who are not yet as far along as Welch who might be prevented from reaching number 16 if they get the right treatment and supervision – combined with an ignition interlock to ensure that they don’t reoffend.

Incarceration makes sense – as an expensive last resort.  Ignition interlocks protect the public at the offender’s expense, not the taxpayer’s, and help the drunk driver learn how to driver responsibly. Other punitive measures have their place.

But license suspension for drunk driving? Just crazy.

Most people view an ignition interlock as what it is: a device designed to measure breath alcohol that keeps you from starting a vehicle if you’ve been drinking. It’s a valuable piece of safety technology.

But some people view it as a challenge.

Bad idea.

We don’t know why it is. As soon as someone brings up the device, a lot of people turn into middle-schoolers who feel they need to show how they can outsmart the grownups by drinking and fooling the interlock into letting them drive.

Rumors abound on ways to bypass an ignition interlock. But that’s all they are – rumors. Technology companies have been at this for a long time. It’s in their interest to keep the public safe, so there are protections built in to the devices. Here’s why it’s not worth trying to get around an ignition interlock:

1. Getting a friend to start your car won’t work.

If you’re drunk and you have a sober friend who can give a breath sample, you’re not in the clear. Once you drive off, you’ll have to give another breath sample in a few minutes. That’s the rolling re-test, designed to prevent exactly that scenario, and ones in which a sober person starts the car and then starts drinking him- or herself.

So you’ll have to drag the sober person with you. In which case, it would make sense to let that person drive, right?

2. Cutting wires won’t work.

Car electronics aren’t simple. And even if you could figure out how to do it, the data from the ignition interlock is logged. If you bypassed the device, the authorities would know that you drove without taking the test, and that is a violation.

3. Eating strange stuff won’t work.

Eating onions, breath mints, garlic, or some other strong-smelling substance won’t hide alcohol from the interlock. It’s not smelling the alcohol – it’s detecting alcohol molecules.  As for mouthwash, it contains alcohol, so you’re really off base there.

4. Pennies won’t work.

You might have heard about putting pennies in your mouth – something about copper (which pennies aren’t made of anymore) reacting with alcohol. We can thank the wondrous ability of the Internet to preserve rumors that would get you laughed out of any high-school chemistry classroom.

5. Balloons won’t work.

Yes, some great middle-school minds think they can get a sober friend to blow into a balloon (or a bunch of balloons – remember the rolling re-test?) and just release that air into the ignition interlock device to fool it. But modern devices are designed to check to see if a human is blowing into it – you need to hum or inhale. There might even be a camera, in which case you’ll look pretty silly – and pretty guilty of a violation – with that balloon.

So what does work?

Using-Monitech-Ignition-InterlockThere’s no way to fool an interlock. But there is a way to make sure you pass the test every time: driving sober. Once you’ve shown that you are a responsible driver who’s not likely to re-offend, and you complete your interlock term, the device will be removed by the same professionals who installed it. After that you’ll be back on the road as you were before.

So don’t waste a lot of energy thinking up ways to fool your ignition interlock. It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. And that’s good, because the interlock is keeping you, and a lot of other people on the road, safe from the harm that impaired driving can bring.

ignition interlock breath testsIf you’re ordered to install an ignition interlock in your vehicle, there’s a good reason for that: the courts and the public want reassurance that you won’t drive again while impaired.

And we’ll assume you’re a responsible driver who won’t have any more violations. But you’ll still have the problem of explaining to your friends and other passengers what the device on your dashboard is for. Here are a few suggestions to make that part of your interlock program a little easier:

  1. “Did you know I’ve got breath-assist on my car? It’s the latest thing. Saves ten percent on fuel bills.”
  2. “This? Oh, this is an anti-theft device. It’s programmed with my individualized breath pattern. If anyone else tries to drive my car it calls the police.”
  3. “Can you wait a second? I need to call Toyota on the intercom. I think I heard a funny noise in the engine on the way here.”
  4. “Oh man, I could use an oxygen boost right now.  I used to buy the cans, but it was cheaper just to put a tank in the trunk. Just a second …”
  5. “Hey, is your seat feeling kind of under-inflated? Mine is. Let me just blow it up a little…”
  6. “Hydration, my friend. That’s the key. I keep water in my car so I can sip on the go. Did you know that 75% of Americans don’t get enough water?  That can lead to rapid heartbeat, fever, muscle cramps. Ask me about muscle cramps sometime.”
  7. (For women) “How’s my lip gloss? Hmm, needs a bit more. Just got this new color. Crazy dispenser, right? There, that’s better…”
  8. “Hey, my nephew left his bubble pipe in the car. Wonder if there’s any soap left? (blows). Guess not. Okay, let’s go.”
  9. “We’ll be departing shortly. In the unlikely event of a water landing, a scuba unit will deploy. NHTSA regulations require me to test this. It just takes 6 seconds. Thank you for your patience.”

There are plenty of reasons not to drink and drive. First among them is the harm you can do to yourself and others. Ten thousand people are killed each year, many more injured, and countless others harmed in other ways through the crime of drunk driving.

There’s also the cost in money and time. And finally, there’s the humiliation. Having an ignition interlock is a good thing – the devices have been proven to reduce recidivism dramatically in states where they are required and interlock laws are enforced. But many people are uneasy about having the devices in their vehicles, and unsure of how to explain it to others.

We hope these explanations help. If they are a bit far-fetched, make up your own. As long as you use it and stay on the road safely and legally, what you tell your friends is up to you.

School Bus DUIIt’s a parent’s nightmare: a school bus driver has been drinking. It happened in Cherokee County, North Carolina recently. Fortunately, no one was hurt when the school bus got stuck at an intersection. The driver was spotted, tested, and arrested after he failed a sobriety test.

Seven children were aboard.

There is a special kind of alarm that arises when one learns that the lives of children have been put in danger. Whatever reactions can be expected from parents, teachers, and officials, you can be sure that “No harm, no foul” will not be among them after a school bus DUI.

So what is to be done?

According to news reports school leaders will be looking into procedures such as random testing to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

There might be a better way.

How Europe uses Ignition Interlocks to For Safer Roads

A few countries in Europe have decided that drunk driving is too big a risk to tolerate. France ordered all its school buses to have ignition interlocks by 2015. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

With an ignition interlock, a driver gives a breath sample before starting the vehicle. If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above a preset limit the vehicle cannot start. The driver then has to blow tests periodically while driving. This is a safe procedure that does not require the driver to take his or her eyes off the road.

The ignition interlock cannot stop a vehicle that is moving. More on how ignition interlocks work here.

Sweden was an innovator in using ignition interlocks for commercial vehicles. Trucks, government vehicles, company fleet cars and even trains employ ignition interlocks so that the public can be protected from drunk drivers. The devices are even offered as dealer options.

Ignition Interlocks for School Buses – It’s Time

Random testing is helpful, but ultimately it is random, and won’t catch every instance of alcohol use. Perhaps it’s time for states to consider the lifesaving powers of technology. Having ignition interlocks on our school buses would give parents a bit of peace of mind in an uncertain world.

Using-Monitech-Ignition-InterlockMany traffic laws are passed out of an urgent need to improve public safety, and we’re often impatient to see results. But it takes time to prove the effects of such laws.

So it has been with ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Arizona passed an all-offender ignition interlock law in 2007. From then all, all DUI offenders – including first offenders – had to install the device in their vehicle. After that, the public had to wait to see if this measure did indeed take repeat drunk drivers off the road and reduce alcohol-related road collisions and deaths.

The results were dramatic – a drop of more than 40 percent. But would it last? Recently the research website axlegeek studied data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find out which cities and states had the most alcohol-related vehicle deaths.

The findings were pretty interesting:

  • The cities that had more alcohol-related road deaths than the national average tended to be smaller to medium-sized. Lack of public transportation is a likely cause.
  • Cities with rural characteristics also had more alcohol-related road fatalities. Worse roads, worse driving habits, and sketchier policing all play a part. Knowing that a patrol won’t be around makes drinking and driving more likely.

What was striking about Arizona was the change since 2007, when the state’s ignition interlock law was passed.

Alcohol-related fatalities hit a peak of 8.34 per 100,000 people in 2006, and they were at their lowest point in 2014 with 2.97 per 100,000 people

It was more than just ignition interlocks, of course: driver education, better law enforcement, and public awareness all played a part.  But clearly something took a turn in 2007, and it’s very reasonable to conclude that from that year on, convicted drunk drivers were not able to start their vehicles. They had a “time out” during which they could obtain counseling and deal with their alcohol issues. Those who reoffended had their interlock period extended.

Road safety is a numbers game, and in Arizona, the alcohol-related fatality numbers have  been looking  better over the years. Will it continue? That’s up to the public and the enlightened public officials who got this ignition interlock law enacted, and who can now work on seeing that that it is better enforced.

Today’s article contribution comes to us from the Law Office of Aaron Black, PLLC

phoenix-police-spot-drunk-driversPolice officers in Phoenix, Arizona look for approximately 20 signs for impaired driving in Phoenix, in addition to many other civil driving infractions when patrolling for drunk drivers.

In order for the police to stop you they need to see a violation first. Violation such as turning out of a parking lot without signaling, license plate light not working and taillight or headlight out. Simply any infraction that allows them to pull you over.

In essence a simple infraction can lead to a DUI if the officer notices things such as red eyes, slurring of speech or smell of alcohol on your person.

Below is a list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Straddling the center of the lane marker
  • “Appearing to be drunk”
  • Almost striking an object
  • Weaving
  • Driving on other than designated highway
  • Swerving
  • Speed more than 10mph below the speed limit
  • Stopping for no reason in traffic
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting
  • Tires on lane marker
  • Erratic Braking
  • Driving into oncoming traffic
  • Inconsistent signaling
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Stopping inappropriately
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Accelerating of Decelerating rapidly
  • No headlights

Arizona has some of the most severe penalties for DUI in the country and even a first time DUI can carry some harsh penalties such as jail time and fines. In addition Arizona law requires the use of the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) also known as Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) for at least one year. The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed on your vehicle. Each time you need to drive your car you must provide a breath sample in order for your car to start.

Read the original article.

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