Ignition Interlock Devices: Serving a Purpose, but Far from Infallible

I came across this article on one of my listservs, in which the accuracy and safety of Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) are called into question. I’ve been saying for years that IIDs, while well-intentioned and serving a legitimate purpose, are also fraught with error and, in fact, dangerous.  If convicted of a DUI in Washington State, one faces a minimum of a 1-year IID requirement.  Specifically, convicted DUI offenders must install an alcohol-monitoring device on their vehicle, which randomly/periodically (while the vehicle is in motion) requires the driver to blow into a breath test machine.  A number of things can cause false positives with an IID (i.e. cologne, hand-sanitizer, mouthwash, windshield antifreeze, etc…)  Further, these false positives routinely result in drivers being locked out of their cars, resulting in significant and unnecessary towing fees.  Drivers are periodically required to blow into their IIDs while the vehicle is in motion.  Further, one cannot successfully provide a breath sample into an IID without placing at least one hand on the mouthpiece of the device.  Thus, while Washington State law prohibits drivers from using a handheld electronic device while driving, taking one or both hands off the steering wheel and blowing into an alcohol monitoring device for no less than 10 seconds isn’t a problem…  Additionally, subjects with smaller lung capacities or those suffering from asthma or shortness of breath will regularly have difficulty satisfying the exhalation requirements for a sufficient IID sample.  Thus, drivers are routinely required to blow into IIDs while attempting to navigate traffic.  It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to conclude this kind of behavior is dangerous.  Make no mistake: IIDs serve a legitimate purpose and are likely responsible for having saved lives.  However, the science/technology behind IIDs is nowhere near where it should be.  Further, the employees responsible for installing & monitoring IIDs are not highly-trained technicians or engineers.  Rather, IID installations are usually handled by employees of automotive accessory stores (i.e. Car Toys, etc…)  

Avoiding a DUI conviction and the 1-year IID (minimum) requirement is paramount for anyone arrested for DUI in Washington State.  The attorneys at Veitch Ault & Associates focus in the defense of those accused of serious traffic offenses, including DUI. If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI in Washington State, contact Veitch Ault & Associates immediately (425) 307-5515 to make sure one is given the best chance to defend themselves.


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