Written by attorney David Ashley Haenel

Ignition Interlock Devices: Blow Before You Go

Those who get hit with stiff driving under the influence penalties are hit with life changing stipulations. When you get up in the morning to go to work, you just get in your car, turn the ignition and drive off. No further thought required. Likewise, when you want to run an errand, go out for entertainment or simply drive anywhere, you have the freedom to pretty much do what you choose. This is a freedom that should not be taken for granted, because those hit with DUI charges often have these simple rights taken away, and must blow into an ignition interlock that requires you to blow into a breathalizer before the car will start.

The state of Florida is one that has cracked down on DUI offenders. Anyone who has received multiple DUI offenses may be subject to use an ignition interlock system for their vehicles. These stipulations may be strengthened even further, as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing to have this be a condition for every single DUI conviction, whether it is a person's first offense or fifth.

These ignition interlock systems cost about $200 for installation, in addition to monthly fees charged by the company that monitors and maintains them. The device cuts on whenever a would be driver blows into the attached tube. They are not allowed to register any alcohol on the blood alcohol content scale. If any alcohol is measured, your vehicle won't start up. Federal experts call this a quality way to cut down on the number of alcohol related car crashes, especially those that end in fatalities.

The question remains, how useful and effective a measure will this be to prevent people from getting behind the wheel while drunk? A common workaround revolves around someone getting a friend to blow into the device if they have been drinking so that the car will still start. Some might also argue that many states already have stiff penalties for first time DUI offenders. The state of Florida and many others issue a fine of $500, court costs, the suspension of license and mandatory community service. The judge can also issue more penalties at his or her discretion, depending on the terms of the case.

Regardless of what type of effect this would have on drivers and safety, it is clear that people are getting the message about driving drunk and the severe consequences that can take place as a result. Any alcohol commercial or ad urges its consumers to drink responsibly, in the same way that tobacco companies years ago were required to attach a Surgeon General's warning to their products outlining the hazardous effects of consumption. More than ever, people are getting the word out and urging each other to use designated drivers or cabs if they feel that they are going to drink. In many areas, localities will allow public transportation to run all night to give people more options to get home safely. It appears that people are trying and the results remain to be seen.

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