Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that would offer an alternative method of deterrence in dealing with repeat DUI offenders. Rather than requiring that repeat offenders obtain an ignition interlock device throughout the trial process, the bill would allow offenders to swear that they will not drive.
What is an Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is a small mechanism that is attached directly to a car's ignition system. Before the ignition system of a car with an interlock device installed will start, the driver must blow a specified amount of air into the device. If the breath alcohol content (BAC) is over .025, the car will not start.
Some devices also have a function that prevents drivers from having a sober friend unlock the car for them. This is done by requiring “rolling tests”. Once the car starts from the initial unlock, the device will require continuous readings for the car to continue operating. Failure to comply with these tests results in one of several alarms (horn honking, lights flashing, etc.)
The device also contains a chip that stores your BAC readings. This allows court officials and officers to monitor your activity and ensure that you are adhering to the requirements of the program.
House Bill 1276
As it relates to the interlock devices, House Bill 1276 provides two options to repeat offenders.
- The offender, upon being arrested for a second offense involving driving while under the influence of alcohol, immediately have an ignition interlock device installed on all his or her vehicles. Proof that the devices have been installed must be provided to the court within five business days following the offender's release from custody. The interlock device then remains installed until the court rules on the matter.
- The court allows the offender to sign an affidavit that essentially states that he or she agrees not to drive during the pendency of his or her trial. Additional restrictions (24/7 continuous sobriety program monitoring) may also be required.
Violation of the agreement would be grounds for arrest.
Why is This Happening?
The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Roger Goodman, feels that the new provisions provided by the bill would add an extra level of deterrence to those who would seek loopholes around the interlock program. Currently, courts are limited in what they can do when they face a situation where an individual is appearing before them for a DUI charge and informs the court that he or she does not have access to consistent transportation. If the defendant does not have a car, there is no place to install the interlock device. In theory, a signed affidavit swearing that the defendant will not drive during the pendency of the trial adds an extra level of protection.
House Bill 1276 is currently being debated. Amendments and modifications have been proposed, and the bill has been returned to the House Rules Committee for a third reading. In the meantime, the ignition interlock program is in place as is.
Do You Need Help?
If you have been charged with a DUI, do not try to handle it yourself. Reach out to an experienced attorney. If you need help from a Spokane DUI attorney, consider contacting the West Law Office. Attorney Russell West has years of experience in providing legal representation to his clients across a number of fields, including personal injury, criminal traffic misdemeanors, and DUIs. Let the West Law Office provide you with the assistance that you deserve and need. Reach out today for a free consultation.