Ignition interlock devices are used to prevent drivers who are intoxicated from being able to operate their motor vehicles. A person who has an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car must first blow into the device before that person can start the car. If the device measures a set amount of alcohol on the person's breath, then the car will not start. The amount of alcohol that can be on a person's breath in order for the ignition interlock device to prevent the car from starting depends on the state and the convictions that the driver has. Furthermore, some states require that an ignition interlock device be installed after the first DUI conviction, while other states require it for a second DUI or if the person's BAC was over 0.15.
In Virginia, for example, a person will have an ignition interlock device installed after his or her first DUI. The state is now going to require that the ignition interlock devices installed in DUI offenders cars have an additional feature -- a camera. The new regulations were presented to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe by the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). The goal behind having a camera in the ignition interlock device is to prevent another person besides the DUI offender from blowing into the device to start the car. According to Chris Morris, who is the special programs for VASAP, “The ignition interlock camera takes a picture of the driver's seat whenever a breath test is submitted, or whenever a rolling re-test is prompted by the interlock device.” The pictures that the ignition interlock device takes will be monitored when the drivers take their cars to be calibrated, which they must do monthly.
Ignition interlock devices have been found to be an effective deterrent for people who are trying to drive under the influence. According to MADD, “Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico have all seen their drunk driving deaths drop by more than 30 percent after all-offender interlock laws were passed.” These devices are more effective than simple license suspension as “50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.”
There is other new technology currently being developed to help prevent drivers from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. In 2015, USA Today reported that the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, has been working on new ways to test drivers for alcohol. DADSS has been developing a breath system and a touch system. The breath system would still use breath to measure alcohol, however, the driver wouldn't have to blow into a tube like with ignition interlock devices. The touch system “would screen for alcohol when the driver touches the start button, or another designated surface in the car.” A person's “[a]lcohol levels would be measured under the skin's surface on a touch-pad with an infrared light scanner.” The technology has received support from MADD. The technology won't be available anytime soon, but estimates are that it will be ready in the “next five to eight years.” The technology will likely be an “optional safety feature” in new cars, as opposed to “required equipment.”
Washington requires ignition interlock devices be installed in the vehicles of those convicted of a DUI. In addition, cameras are also required on those devices. If you or someone you know has been charged with a driving under the influence in Washington, please do not hesitate to contact attorney Aaron Wolff today.