In Washington State, there are an estimated 20,000 residents using an ignition interlock system in their vehicles. A considerable number are residents who have been required by law to use the alcohol-sensing device after a previous conviction for driving under the influence. However, a new bill has been recently introduced to boost enforcement of the device. Some are asking, though, if the move truly keeps the road safe or if it keeps the device's manufacturers profitable.
The ignition interlock device was invented in the mid-1970s, but only became a sentencing alternative in Washington in 1987. The device features a breathalyzer and is set to the state's blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 percent. If the driver is above the limit, the device, which is connected to the vehicle's engine, will prevent the vehicle from starting.
The sponsor of a 1999 bill that made the devices mandatory for repeat offenders, Representative Dino Rossi, argued that the penalty of loss of license was not effective. Now, there are proposals for a new law requiring the device as a release condition for jailed defendants who have been previously convicted.
For Washington motorists, the passing of the new law could prove to be a tightening noose, as the state already has stringent anti-drunk driving laws. While keeping the roads safe is everyone's priority, there is also the question of the effectiveness of the devices coupled with human error. Calibrated devices can still be subject to malfunctions, and there are a limited number of police officers in Washington in charge of effectively installing the ignition interlock system. Unfortunately for the convicted, the devices are also costly, which means restoration of driving privileges may come at a steep price.
Individuals accused of DUI have the burden of proof, which is why the assistance of a legal representative familiar with the state's stern laws may be crucial in preparing a strong defense. Defendants not only face the cost of installing an IID but also face possible fines and a jail sentence. When combined with license revocation, a permanent criminal record and a blemished reputation, the situation can grow overwhelming, thus emphasizing the need for a compelling defense.
Source: Spokesman.com, "Anti-DUI car devices popular in Washington," May 28, 2013