Iowa Drunk Driving Law Requires Cameras On All Ignition Interlocks

Iowa drunk driving If you’ve seen a photo captured by an ignition interlock device, it’s usually because someone was stealing a car and they were captured by the on-board camera. Many states and jurisdictions currently require ignition interlocks to be equipped with cameras.

But not every state has that requirement, and Iowa is currently one of the few holdouts for on-board cameras. That may soon change. A new rule has been proposed as an addition to Iowa drunk driving law which would require cameras in all ignition interlock devices. It won’t stop someone from blowing to start a vehicle with a drunk driver behind the wheel, but it will capture a photo of them if they do.

Why should Iowa drunk driving laws include cameras on ignition interlocks?

It tightens up ignition interlock monitoring

When a photo shows a convicted drunk driver blowing into an ignition interlock, the monitoring company will have access to that image and they’ll know whether or not someone else was blowing into the device to start the car. If there’s an issue with the offender asking someone else to start the car, the monitoring company can notify whomever is in charge of that offender’s case.

It prevents a drunk driver from driving

Some drunk drivers will ask a sober friend to blow to start their vehicle, but they don’t hand over the keys and let them drive. When they have a car that starts, that convicted offender is free to drive while under the influence, and it’s even more troubling when that sober friend performs a rolling retest so they can drink while driving.

With an on-board ignition interlock camera, every time an offender or someone else blows, an image is captured. That might not stop the offender at the time, but according to Iowa drunk driving law, it’s a form of tampering with the interlock and the offender could lose their privilege to drive.

Iowa drunk driving law should change for the better by July of 2018, and if that planned change does happen, the roads will be much safer in the state.

How Can Iowa Strengthen Ignition Interlock Compliance?

Iowa ignition interlock complianceAnyone who receives a drunk driving conviction for operating while impaired (OWI) in Iowa is on the hook for quite a few penalties, and for repeat offenders and some first offenders, that can include an ignition interlock.

But, as it turns out, the state of Iowa isn’t forcing people with a drunk driving conviction to use their interlocks correctly. That’s resulting in a lot of offenders on the roads who are driving free, clear, and without a care for the fact that they are essentially skipping one of their most significant drunk driving penalties.

What can Iowa do to strengthen their ignition interlock laws? There are a few steps they can take that have worked for others states.

Require onboard cameras along with ignition interlocks

Many states require cameras to be installed as part of the interlock program, and that camera takes a photo of whomever blows into the interlock to start the car and also take another photo during a rolling retest. Right now Iowa does not require interlock cameras, but they could force compliance and eliminate any cheating with the ignition interlock if they did.

Enforce non-compliance penalties

Some first time and all repeat offenders are required to obtain a restricted driver’s license upon drunk driving conviction. That restricted driver’s license identifies that person as a drunk driving offender and lets law enforcement know they are required to driver with an ignition interlock. Unfortunately Iowa doesn’t follow up to see if an offender has obtained the restricted license he or she is supposed to apply for, and that could mean the offender is skipping the ignition interlock completely.

There are no consequences if the offender doesn’t follow through with the license or penalty either, unless that offender is stopped for another drunk driving offense.

These are just two ways Iowa could strengthen their ignition interlock program, and if you look at states like Arizona, there are many other avenues they could pursue to force compliance and hold the state’s repeat offenders accountable. Until they do, drunk drivers will be a serious problem on Iowa roads.

Is It Time For An Ignition Interlock Overhaul Iowa?

Iowa ignition interlock There’s no question that all offender ignition interlock laws work. If everyone who was supposed to install one in every state actually did, the number of drunk drivers on the roads could easily be cut in half. Unfortunately that ignition interlock compliance isn’t happening, and a recent look at Iowa’s ignition interlock program demonstrates just what happens when people don’t follow through on this important part of the penalty process.

Not all Iowa offenders install ignition interlocks

Almost five thousand people in Iowa drive with an ignition interlock. To do so, they are required to obtain a special temporary restricted driver’s license, but not all offenders are following through. That means unless they are stopped by police for another drunk driving offense, that person won’t face consequences for not obtaining the temporary license or failing to install the ignition interlock.

If you fail, you don’t go to jail

If you blow into an ignition interlock and you have alcohol on your breath, you fail the test and your car won’t start. If you fail too many times your car goes into lockout mode, and when that happens an offender should have their temporary restricted license revoked.

Other states have laws and place sanctions on offenders who fail their ignition interlock tests, and those sanctions include extended time using the interlock and fines. In Iowa these sanctions don’t happen because the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) only has the authority to revoke a temporary driver’s license when they are notified of a lockout. The problem? They aren’t always notified.

It’s time for an update Iowa

Deaths due to drunk driving are climbing in Iowa. The number of Iowa crashes that were caused by drunk drivers jumped from twenty six percent in 2011 to thirty seven percent in 2015. That means it’s long past time for a refresh on Iowa’s ignition interlock laws and ignition interlock compliance.

It’s a new year and a new start for everyone. Maybe that new start will include an update to Iowa’s ignition interlock laws.

Ignition Interlock Law In Honor Of Baby Not Moving Forward

ignition interlock law not moving forward in IowaWhen you lose a loved one to drunk driving, you need to find a way to honor that person. Because so many people make the senseless choice to drink and drive, some families will take steps to remember their loved one by trying to stop whatever caused the loss in the first place. That’s why you see so many bills brought forward to state lawmakers in remembrance of someone who has died because of drunk driving.

Unfortunately those bills don’t always pass, and that’s the case with a bill sponsored by Representative Sandy Salmon. Bill HF 2158 was created in honor of Drake Bigler, a 5-month-old baby who was killed in June of 2012 in a crash caused by a repeat drunk driver. The driver who killed him was sentenced to 48 months in jail. Although it was designed to strengthen operating while impaired (OWI) law in Iowa by requiring an all offender ignition interlock law, the bill has stalled on the floor and will not be moving forward.

If passed, first-time OWI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 would have been required to use the device whenever they drove. The offender would also be required to demonstrate compliance before the ignition interlock would be removed by keeping it serviced and passing breath tests. If an offender couldn’t afford the ignition interlock, the bill set up a fund to help.

There are 25 states with all offender ignition interlock laws, and it’s well documented that they stop drunk drivers in their tracks. To avoid first time offenders becoming repeat offenders or to prevent a repeat drunk driver from driving again and crashing the way someone did into baby Drake Bigler, an all offender ignition interlock law is the best weapon any state has. It’s unfortunate that lawmakers in Iowa didn’t see that.

Although this set back must be disappointing for drunk driving advocates and the family of Drake Bigler, hopefully it will give them the motivation to find another way to pass an all offender ignition interlock law. If it stopped one more crash from happening, it would be worth the effort.


Just Say No To The DUI Selfie

DUI-Selfie-Smoking-GunUnless you’ve been living off the grid somewhere, you’ve probably heard of or have taken your own selfie. These individual snap shots have become such a big thing the word has its own entry in the dictionary, but it might be awhile before they have an addition for the ‘DUI Selfie’.

The driving under the influence (DUI) selfie came to be after a young man in Iowa City was arrested after being pulled over for speeding. The arresting officer noticed he had the odor of alcohol inside the vehicle and when asked, the driver admitted to smoking marijuana before he got behind the wheel of his car.

After a few field sobriety tests, the driver displayed what the officer called a ‘measurable impairment’ and he was then asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. That breathalyzer resulted in a .0 reading, and at that point a Drug Recognition Expert made an assessment. He determined that the driver was under the influence of cannabis and he was deemed unsafe to operate a vehicle.

Where did the selfie come in? When he was brought in to the police station, the driver asked the officer if he would pose for a Snapchat selfie with him. The officer obliged, and even gave the thumbs up.

It might be pretty funny when you see someone snapping a selfie in a situation like this, but not every DUI case ends on such a lighthearted note. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous, and this driver might not be smiling when he receives up to $1,200 in fines and a 180-day drivers license suspension. If it was his second offense, he will also have to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he drives.

Let’s hope this is the last we’ll see of the DUI selfie.

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Which States Have Ignition Interlock Laws?

cheat-ignition-interlockWhat states have ignition interlock laws? The more appropriate question is, ‘What state doesn’t?’ All 50 states now have some form of ignition interlock law on the books, although some make it mandatory while others offer the device as a condition of probation.

The first ignition interlock devices came onto the scene in 1969. At that time they used semiconductor alcohol sensors, and because that type of ignition interlock reacted to non-alcohol sources, they weren’t very reliable. The ignition interlock devices you can now get from Guardian ignition interlock use fuel cell sensors so you know they’re reliable, accurate, and they reduce the likelihood that a drunk driver will become a repeat offender by 67%.

Way back in 1995, Iowa was among the first states who required ignition interlock devices for driving under the influence (DUI) offenders, and their law still requires offenders with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .10 to install the device. Since that time numerous other states have jumped on board, but many are beginning to require ignition interlocks for first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or over.

There are currently 21 states that require mandatory ignition interlock devices for all offenders including Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, and Utah. States like Colorado don’t have a mandatory ignition interlock requirement for a first conviction, but they provide incentives like reduced license suspensions if you install one. California currently has an ignition interlock pilot program that at least one county would like to extend, and in those four areas ignition interlocks are mandatory for all offenders.

The reduction of drunk driving deaths is the reason why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now recommend all states adopt a first offender ignition interlock law and set a minimum length of time the offender is to use one. Maybe 2015 will be the year that more states see the safety benefits and adopt ignition interlocks for all offenders.

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