Utah DUI and Ignition Interlock Devices

If a person is convicted of a DUI and the breath test was over a .16, most courts will require the person to put an ignition interlock device on any car they own and any car they drive. If a person has more than one conviction within 10 years, it is mandatory by state law to have this device. The device is basically a breathalyzer that will not allow a car to start if the driver has alcohol in their system. Kutv News did a story on this which I have posted below in the continue reading button. Here’s the problem that many clients experience with this device:

  • They constantly malfunction.
  • They can read alcohol if the person has perfume on them or an alcohol based fragrance.
  •  They misread other substances on the breath as alcohol.
  •  They have to be maintained and checked constantly.

SALT LAKE CITY – Two years ago, Utah created a law designed to make roads safer against repeat drunk drivers. But an investigation has found that the law is not being enforced. The law requires a twice-convicted drunk driver to use a breathalyzer interlock device in his or her vehicle. Before starting the car, the driver must blow into the device. If the interlock mechanism detects alcohol, the car will not start. However, we have found a combination of confusion in the courts, the Utah Driver’s License Division — and even the drunk drivers themselves have allowed the law to be ignored. Weslie Simmons is required to blow into a breathalyzer to start his vehicle. In October of 2006, he was convicted for a second time of driving under the influence. But the thing is, Simmons initially had no idea he was even supposed to have the device in his car. "The second judge didn’t say anything about the interlock," he said. Simmons found out the hard way, when a police officer pulled him over for driving with expired license plates. Simmons said when the officer looked up his driver’s license information, he discovered that Weslie was required by law to have an interlock device in his vehicle. "At that point, it was just completely news to me," he said. As a result, authorities did not let Simmons drive his car. He had an interlock breathalyzer device installed the next day. According to Utah law, when judges sentence drunk drivers, they are supposed to inform second-timers that they are required to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle. But we found that doesn’t always happen. "That’s the biggest loophole we are seeing," said Christina Bararra of Affordable Interlock, a company that sells the devices. "Unfortunately, the problem has been that there is no enforcement of this. So when someone goes to get their license back, who is interlock-restricted, they don’t have an interlock on the car." Bararra said she hears the same story all the time — offenders who aren’t aware that they are required by law to have the devices in their vehicle. Now, the Driver’s License Division gets all of the legal information from Utah courts and report restricted drivers to local police agencies. Officers then see the information on computer screens — but no one legally has to tell the offenders. "I actually talked to the supervisor and he said it’s not their job… and they don’t have to verbally tell you," Simmons said. "There isn’t a requirement by law that we notify the person," said Kim Gibb of the Utah Driver’s License Division. "We certainly don’t want to put people in the position that they are out driving around… and they have no idea until they get pulled over for it." But that’s exactly what happened to Simmons. And our investigation found that more than 5,200 Utah drivers are required by law to have ignition interlocks — yet companies that manufacture them say only 1,500 devices are even available in the state. "The prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the judges… all of them should be informing the offender that they need to have this installed," said Utah Sen. Carlene Walker, who introduced the bill. Sen. Walker said it is time that officials review the law’s implementation. "Somehow, the ball is being dropped and some people are getting through the cracks," she said. "We will be looking into that and finding out exactly why that is happening and try and figure out a course of action to try to close that gap." Closing the gap, officials say, could help prevent drunk driving re-offenders. Research shows that pairing an interlock device with alcohol education helps prevent drinking and driving. Simmons said it has made him think twice before getting behind the wheel. "It definitely keeps me in line… and obviously I have had a problem with it," he said.

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Posted in Utah DUI Sentencings

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