Written by attorney David Nelson Jolly

The DUI Process: Vehicle Immobilization

Vehicle Immobilization

Another tool to prevent DUI offenders from using their vehicle is immobilizing their vehicle. This is done by using a bar-type locking device (“club") on the steering wheel or locking device on a wheel (“boot"). Thirteen States have laws permitting vehicle immobilization as a sanction for impaired driving offenses (FL, IA, IL, KS, MI, MS, NM, OH, OR, SC, VA, VT, WI). Fell, James C., Voas, Robert B., McKnight, A. Scott, and Levy, Marvin. A National Survey of Vehicle Sanction Laws for Alcohol-Related Driving Offenses in the United States: Preliminary Findings. Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, Calverton, MD National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, DC. Seattle, Wa. (2007)

One such device is called the “Denver Boot" and is manufactured by Clancy Systems International Inc. The Denver Boot was invented in 1953 by Frank Marugg. Marugg was a friend to many politicians and police department officials in Denver and the Denver Sheriff’s Department asked him for help with their parking enforcement problem. Marugg and the Sheriff decided to build a device to immobilize vehicles whose owners didn’t pay their outstanding parking tickets. He subsequently invented and patented the Denver Boot. The Marugg family later sold the company in 1986 to Clancy Systems.

In Ohio researchers conducted a field test to study the deterrent effects that a combined impoundment and immobilization program had on accidents and violations for multiple DUI and suspended license offenders. Voas, RB, et al., Effectiveness of the Ohio Vehicle Action and Administrative License Suspension Laws. Washington, DC: NHTSA (2000) From September 1993 to September 1995, the vehicles of nearly 1,000 offenders were impounded and then immobilized. The recidivism rates of these offenders were compared to eligible offenders who did not receive any vehicle sanctions. The study determined that offenders whose vehicles were impounded and immobilized had lower rates of DUI recidivism both during and after the termination of the sanctions. Similar findings were obtained in Hamilton County, where only vehicle impoundment was used. Voas, R.B., Tippetts, A.S., and Taylor, E. The Effect of Vehicle Impoundment and Immobilization on Driving Offenses of Suspended and Repeat DWI Drivers. 40th annual proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. Vancouver, British Columbia (1996); Voas, R.B., Tippetts, A.S., and Taylor, E. Evaluation of the Vehicle Immobilization Law in Franklin County (Columbus) Ohio. Proceedings from Lifesavers 15, Orlando, Florida. (1997)

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