I have written in this space about ignition interlock devices (IID) before. Here in Washington State, including in the greater Seattle area, those convicted of DUI are required to have the device installed in their car for a period if they intend to continue to drive.
Nationwide, the prevalence of IIDs has increased to the point that some companies now produce disguises for the system itself. I am not sure where their purpose is to save drivers the embarrassment of being seen administering a breathalyzer to themselves or to protect their investment in the costly device itself.
Reading the tea leaves of other states considering new IID laws, it seems likely that IIDs are here to stay, and may soon become the routine of any driver, regardless of their driving history.
California lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would also force first-time DUI offenders to have an IID installed.
In Florida, Mothers Against Drunk Driving—appropriately known as MADD—have begun the push for IIDs for anyone convicted of a DUI. Officers there also advocate that the devices should be installed in all new vehicles, just like other required safety features.
Officers in Florida are not the only ones advocating for IIDs for all. A recent editorial in the Hartford Courant, a newspaper from Connecticut, makes the same point. Since the police cannot be everywhere, we should take other steps to prevent drunk driving, the editorial reasons.
The editorial also points out that carmakers are also researching ways to test a driver's BAC without requiring a breath test, a development that would make checking a driver's sobriety much less unwieldy.
The push comes as studies are published that not all drivers ordered to install an IID do so. Some simply elect to drive on a suspended license. So, if drivers that should have an IID installed are not doing so, why is the push to require them in more frequency gaining so much steam?
As with many new laws, it seems that the answer may lie with the people advocating it. In addition to MADD, a group that has been at the forefront of DUI policymaking since the 1980s, many of the above stories mention the Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers (CIMM).
CIIM was formed by the three of the largest IID manufacturers in the country. Its purpose is to ensure that “public policy creates the effective and efficient use of this lifesaving technology that users demand and the public deserves.”
Of course, the page does not mention that the companies that make up CIIM profit greatly from new laws that require that the devices be installed. It also does not clearly identify what users are demanding the technology.
To be sure, there are cases where an installed IID saves lives. There are also cases where they are a completely unnecessary drain on the limited resources of a driver who made one, single mistake.
Coupled with the knowledge that repeat offenders have begun to recognize that there are ways to avoid the systems altogether, it seems unnecessary to march towards a system where the privacy of those that follow the law is invaded because of the lobbying efforts of groups trying to increase their own profit margin.
If you are convicted of a DUI in Washington State, you will be required to install an IID if you wish to continue driving. Know, however, that there are ways to fight your charges. Attorney Kevin Trombold has decades of experience, and has had plenty of success, representing those charged with a DUI in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. If you have been charged with a DUI, do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation.