Any state with an all offender ignition interlock law will reap the benefits of having that law on the books. Whether that means it prevents a first time offender from becoming a repeat offender or it stops a repeat offender from getting behind the wheel over and over again, when you require ignition interlocks as a penalty, you know that you’re going to have safer roads.
But occasionally the laws that are supposed to stop drunk drivers use language that can actually give drunk drivers a way out of that penalty. Case in point? The ignition interlock law in Washington state was worded in a way that let drivers avoid installing the device until the last four months of their one year driver’s license suspension. That loophole has now been closed, and drivers who are required to install an ignition interlock will have to install one for the full 365 days.
Other ignition interlock improvements in Washington state include the requirement of GPS and on-board cameras for all interlocks. Many states require on-board cameras to prove that the person blowing into the ignition interlock is actually the person driving, and now convicted offenders who want to drive their cars without blowing into the interlock themselves will be caught red handed.
Lawmakers who closed these loopholes are also working on closing down a few more in Washington. They’d like to stop convicted drunk drivers from driving company cars without an ignition interlock, and they’re debating on how to deal with people from out of state who are arrested for drunk driving in Washington.
It’s a good thing they’re closing these loopholes, because according to Washington State Patrol there are 20,000 convicted drunk drivers using ignition interlocks right now and there are at least 10,000 who are supposed to be using one and aren’t. That lack of compliance isn’t just from loopholes; for some drivers it’s because they choose to ignore their drunk driving penalty completely.
Washington state is on the right track in putting the focus on laws that let people skirt their ignition interlocks. There’s no question that the devices save lives, but they have to be installed to do so.