Attorney Terry Wapner, has sometimes counseled his clients to accept an ignition interlock device as a means to get their driver's license back earlier, made waves this week by heavily criticizing the devices and questioning whether they should be used at all.
The ignition interlock device, or IID, is a breathalyzer that can be installed in the vehicle of repeat drunk drivers and in some counties in California, for first time convictions. The IID controls the ignition system of the car and requires the driver to blow into it – with alcohol-free breath – before the car will start. IID's have been widely implemented in many states as a means to prevent drunk driving among repeat offenders.
However, Wapner says that IIDs are riddled with problems. In a strongly worded announcement, he questioned whether the devices accomplish their purpose and suggested that they are being used far too widely.
“Installing an IID places a huge financial burden on a driver beyond already paying the fines that the law calls for,” Wapner stated, speaking from his office. “And in many cases, it produces inaccurate and unfair results. These machines can record false positives with white bread particles or even some soy sauces in the mouth.”
Wapner, who is a certified as an Instructor in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Field Test Sobriety Training Program, says that IIDs do not work as effectively as the breathalyzers used by law enforcement, and they often give false positives.
“It's well known that these devices can have trouble working when installed in a vehicle,” Wapner said. “Cold weather and a number of other factors can set them off. A driver only has three chances to get the machine to work properly, and then it locks down his car even if he's sober.”
Wapner believes that rehabilitation programs place fewer burdens on offenders and are more effective in changing their long-term habits.
“The majority of people convicted for DUI just want to move on and will not repeat,” he said. “They don't want to keep driving drunk and they certainly don't want to be unable to drive sober.”