[SeMissourian.com] Fair ~ 79°F  
River stage: 25.83 ft. Falling
Friday, July 25, 2014

Missouri's ignition lock law takes effect next week

Thursday, June 25, 2009

As many as 70,000 Missouri residents convicted of alcohol-related traffic offenses could have to install breath-monitoring devices on their vehicles if they want to legally drive after July 1.

Across Southeast Missouri, those who work to install these devices in vehicles are expecting to see an increase in the number of installation jobs.

Audio 1 of Cape Girardeau doesn't supply interlocks but arranges use, training and installation when someone is ordered by a court to have one in their car, said manager Dave Creech. Audio 1's supplier is Evergreen Interlock, a Kansas City-based company.

Creech said Audio 1 typically schedules and performs about 10 installations a month.

"We haven't noticed an increase, but people tell us it's on the way," Creech said.

The new Missouri law is targeted primarily at repeat drunken drivers who are seeking to regain their licenses, but it also applies to anyone convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving drunk.

Ignition interlocks prevent engines from starting until drivers breathe into an alcohol detector to prove they are sober.

Nearly all states give judges the option of ordering the devices for drunken drivers. In the past few years, about 20 states have passed laws mandating their use for first-time or repeat offenders, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Missouri's law could have a particularly broad effect because it applies to people convicted of drunken driving as long as 10 years ago who are just now eligible to regain their licenses.

The Missouri Department of Revenue, which issues driver's licenses, plans to send more than 70,000 letters to offenders in early July notifying them of the need to get ignition interlocks to legally drive again. The law requires them to be used for six months.

Offenders must cover the costs for the devices, which can range from $30 to $200 to install and an additional $70 to $100 a month to rent.

Creech said Audio 1 handles not only a majority of the court-ordered interlock installations for Southeast Missouri but allows users to take care of the training and other associated paperwork in the store because the office manager had a sister killed in an accident involving a drunken driver.

"It's kind of touched all of us," Creech said.

Those who drive without the devices after July 1 could face an additional two-year license suspension.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which backs ignition interlock requirements for anyone convicted of drunken driving, says the devices have led to a significant decline in the number of repeat offenders. It cites a 2008 study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation that found interlock devices in New Mexico helped decrease repeat offenses by about two-thirds.

But Kansas City defense attorney Matthew Guilfoil, who specializes in driving-while-intoxicated cases, says the devices can produce false results from spicy food or cigarettes and can cause accidents by requiring drivers to re-verify they're sober while the vehicle is running. He described Missouri's law as "draconian."

"It's going back and punishing people again for an old offense" by adding a new requirement to reinstate their driver's licenses, Guilfoil said.

A 2001 Missouri law allowed judges to order ignition interlocks for people convicted of at least two drunken-driving offenses. Former governor Matt Blunt sought to mandate the devices through the state's license administration because he said judges weren't imposing the requirement enough.

The tougher Missouri law was passed in 2008 but doesn't go into effect until next month.

Staff writer Bridget DiCosmo contributed to this report.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on semissourian.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Guilfoil got this one right. You can't impose additional punishment on a crime after it was committed. This backdates 10 years? This is just another reason to get more money from dui's. They claim the whole process is about saving peoples if that were the case they should require them as safety feature in every vehicle. Police arrested 1.37 million people last year for driving under the influence. This number has remained nearly unchanged for the last decade. However fees for court costs, jail, probation, alcohol evaluation exam, donation to drunk driving funds, attorney fees, license reinstatement fees, alcohol education classes have all gone up. But all this is besides the point. If you got a speeding ticket on Monday for going 65 in a 55 and they changed the law Friday that said anyone doing over 10mph over the speed limit had to have a car odometer monitor for the rest of their life (going back 10 years) would you feel like you should have to do it?

-- Posted by stl_dynasty03 on Thu, Jun 25, 2009, at 5:54 PM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account on seMissourian.com or semoball.com, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.


Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.