Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Not So Many Interlock Devices

When they get their licenses back, people with DUI convictions are required to have ignition interlock devices that will prevent their cars from starting if they've been drinking. But it appears that a lot of people ignore the requirement. About 28,000 drivers are covered, but only 4,400 of the devices have been installed. (The disparity is much larger than the number of drivers who quit driving after their DUIs.) DUI offenders ignore orders to add breath tester to cars, Seattle Times, Dec. 26, 2006.

The article discusses the state's lack of an enforcement mechanism. New Mexico, by contrast, has special enforcement units -- as many as six officers in one county.

Amy Freedheim, the senior deputy prosecutor who heads the felony DUI unit for King County, says that interlock violations are generally caught only when the offender is pulled over for something else.

"Some people blatantly disregard the order; some people say they can't afford them," she said. "You don't know if they're on the car unless they get caught."
To keep in mind the reason for her work, Friedlander displays photos of people whose lives were taken by drunk drivers.

The law requiring ignition interlock devices is the Mary Johnsen Act, Laws of 1998, ch. 210 (amending RCW 46.20.720 and 46.61.5055). See also RCW 46.20.391(b) (requirement that applicant prove to Dept of Licensing that he or she has the interlock device).

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