Driving under the influence is a pressing issue that affects communities nationwide. To mitigate this problem, Missouri, like many other states, has adopted breath alcohol ignition interlock requirements for certain cases.
In Missouri, ignition interlocks are generally required for individuals who have been convicted of driving under the influence for the second or subsequent time. A sentencing judge may mandates the device’s installation as part of a sentencing or probation order.
What is a breath alcohol ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock is a device installed in a vehicle to prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must blow into the device. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol in the driver’s system, the vehicle won’t start. Periodic samples are also required while the vehicle is on the road. When the alert for a sample is given, the driver has a preset amount of time to stop the vehicle and provide the sample.
The results are monitored by the installing company and sent to the Department of Revenue and the supervising authority for the court. Modern ignition interlocks utilize a camera to prevent misuse or false accusations that someone required to use the device was driving while impaired when the driver who was impaired was someone else.
What are the challenges of these devices?
While the intent behind ignition interlocks is to improve road safety, this requirement does come with challenges for the people required to use them. The cost is often the most significant. Installation and monthly maintenance fees can be burdensome, especially for those already facing fines and legal costs. Additionally, the device requires regular maintenance and calibration, which can be time-consuming.
Another issue is that individuals who drive more than one vehicle need a device installed on each vehicle they operate. This can be even more costly, but it can also be problematic if the driver has to operate a company vehicle because their employer may not be willing or able to have the device placed on work vehicles.
Anyone who’s facing a drunk driving charge should explore the possibility of having to live with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device for a time. This should be considered as part of developing a defense strategy for the charges they’re facing.