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D.C. DUI Technology Debated

by | Apr 4, 2012

In an effort to combat D.C. DUIs, advocates are gunning for legislation that would require car manufacturers to put alcohol detection monitors in ALL cars.

D.C. DUI attorneys believe this is an extreme overreach of legislation that is already in place requiring people convicted of a DUI in D.C. to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for up to three years, under Section 311 of Title 18 in the District of Columbia’s Municipal Regulations.

Quietly tucked inside a benign transportation bill was a directive to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct research on how expanding this interlock ignition program – again to ALL vehicles – would reduce drunk driving rates.

The NHTSA has already tapped the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety to help with the research. It’s already obvious what the outcome of that research will be, given the clear agendas of these two agencies.

Their hope is develop an interlock ignition program that would use either touch or breath technology to disable a vehicle when someone is drinking. Proponents of the measure, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, have assured that this would be something drivers could choose to have placed on their vehicle – similar to choosing a sunroof or a leather interior.

Democratic Sen. John Sarbanes, one of those who placed the measure inside the transportation bill, said the research is only for the purposes of trying to figure out the next step. He insisted he would balance concerns.

However, representatives with the American Beverage Institute – and D.C. DUI defense attorneys – share skepticism. It isn’t a far reach to say that these devices would soon be mandated – and ultimately, that’s what these advocates want.

Sarbanes, for example, said there is no downside when the goal of it all is to save lives. This is a slippery slope, however, because your talking about possible invasion of privacy issues.

This is on top of legislative provisions that require state that want to receive a portion of federal safety money to mandate ignition interlock device installation for first-time offenders.

As of right now, there are 16 states that require all DUI offenders – including those with first-time convictions – to use ignition interlock devices. Another 22 states plus D.C. require them for repeat offenders and for those who had a very high blood-alcohol level.

In D.C., the ignition interlock program allows those convicted of repeat DUIs to have their license reinstated if they complete all the terms ordered by the court, as well as have the device installed that will prevent their vehicle from starting if they’ve been drinking.

The fact that these devices would be mandated – without regard for how much a person had been drinking or whether this was their first offense – is concerning. The fact that the government is now considering including these devices in EVERYONE’S vehicle is downright alarming.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C.,contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Master Card and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.