New Jersey’s All-Offender Ignition Interlock Law Held Up: Christie Wants to Keep Suspensions

Last December this blog expressed hope that New Jersey would pass a proposed bill that would require first-time DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The effect would have been to reduce the driver’s suspension time, allowing them to driver sooner but preventing them from drinking while doing so.

Alas, it was not to be. At least, not yet.

Governor Chris Christie

Governor Christie Holds Up Ignition Interlock Law

Governor Chris Christie halted the bill, stating that it was “too lenient.” Apparently the idea of a DUI offender driving after as little as 10 days’ suspension strikes him as an easy out for drunk drivers. Christie has proposed a change before he will consider signing the bill: first-time drunk drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of between .08 and .10 must still undergo a 3-month suspension, after which time they would have the interlock device installed.

Is a long suspension followed by an ignition interlock the most sensible solution, as the Governor believes?

Not really. The sad fact is, suspensions don’t work very well on their own. One NTSB study found that about 75 percent of suspended drivers drove at least occasionally while suspended. That number would include those who tend to drink and drive.

New Jersey puts hold on all-offender ignition interlock lawBy preventing a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, ignition interlocks help reduce alcohol-related crashes. No other measure comes close to interlocks in effectiveness.

In attempting to be tougher on drunk drivers, New Jersey’s governor has succeeded only in keeping more of them on the road – unlicensed and uninsured to boot.

Will Texas Finally Get the Ignition Interlock Law Its Citizens Deserve?

Welcome-To-Texas-Drrive-FriendlyLives might soon be saved in Texas — if State Representative Jason Villalba has his way. The Dallas legislator has introduced a bill which would require all DWI offenders — including first offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more — to install an ignition interlock in their vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Currently 24 states have all-offender ignition interlock laws, and a number of states are vying for the honor of becoming the 25th.

Why ignition interlocks for first offenders?

Studies show that first DWI offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers. Those arrested for impaired driving have done so before an average of 80 times before being pulled over. An interlock device assures the public that the offender will not be under the influence and behind the wheel for the specified period. Interlocks help problem drinkers confront their problems, while giving them the mobility they need to get on with their lives.

Currently, Texas requires ignition interlocks for second or subsequent DWI offenses, or first offenses only if the driver’s BAC is .15 — twice the legal limit.

MADD and other public safety advocates, as well as law enforcement agencies, have come out in favor of all-offender interlock laws, with .08 being the threshold. The only opposition appears to be the liquor lobby, which is concerned about losing profits because customers with interlocks will not be drinking to all hours.

Whenever an all-offender interlock law passes, deaths due to alcohol-related crashes go down. HB 2246 is an opportunity to save lives in Texas. Our hope is that everyone who cares about the safety of the roads will push for the passage of this important law.

DUI? Offering a McDonald’s Gift Card to a Police Officer Could Land Your Buns in Jail

Alcohol is a funny thing. You never can tell how it will affect you. Take a few drinks, and you might become a bit funnier. You might slur your words a bit, and lose coordination, which will amuse friends. You could also do something a lot worse, such as drive. And if you’re stopped by a police officer as a suspected DUI, you could shoot the moon and make a choice that guarantees you’ll be busted for drunk driving.

burger-duiPolice regularly watch cars for signs of a driver’s impairment: driving too fast or slow, weaving, or failing to go when the light turns green. There are a lot of signs. When the police stop a driver, they are looking for more apparent signs of inebriation, such as slurred speech or the smell of alcohol.

Here’s a tip: don’t do what a driver did recently in North Royalton, Ohio: when asked for his license, the driver gave the police officer a McDonald’s gift card. True, the driver smelled of alcohol and wasn’t speaking too well, but even if he hadn’t been obviously drunk, the gift card would have been a tip-off.

It happens more often than you think. The impaired driver puts on a sober face and concentrates on looking clear-headed, and then hands his or her credit card to the police officer, who considers it a tip-off that the driver has been drinking?

Why does it happen? Drinking makes it hard to do two things at once. So if you’re using your brain to put on a sober appearance, you don’t have much brain power left to remember that it’s your driver’s license that you need to present, and not the more usual credit card.

Police are trained to watch for drivers who corral all their brain power into appearing sober – in fact the field sobriety test or FST, is specifically designed to take advantage of this difficulty and trip them up.

The moral of the story is: it might be the McDonald’s gift card, or it might be something else, but something will alert the police that you’re impaired behind the wheel. And that means fines, jail, ignition interlocks, and higher insurance. So if you want to supersize your troubles, drink and drive.

LifeSafer Location Spotlight: Auto Appeal of Indianapolis Indiana

Auto_Appeal_LogoTechnicians at Auto Appeal of Indianapolis Indiana see a lot of familiar faces. For 22 years, most of their customers have been repeat business, satisfied drivers who keep bringing in their rides for top-flight car stereo, convenience and security enhancements, and customization. As a LifeSafer ignition interlock provider, Auto Appeal brings that same level of expertise and service to your interlock needs.

Auto-Appeal-Ford-Mustang-5.0Auto Appeal will install, monitor, and service your LifeSafer ignition interlock, instruct you in its proper use, and answer any questions you might have. Jason Farmer, the proprietor, and his team of technicians are experts in all aspects of automotive electronics, so you can be sure your vehicle is in good hands, whether it’s a vintage Mustang or the latest hybrid.

In addition to ignition interlock services, Auto Appeal installs remote starters, security systems, keyless entry systems, mobile video, GPS, and backup cameras. Window tinting, pinstriping and lift kits are also on offer, all taken care of with professionalism and courtesy.

You’ll find Auto Appeal on West Washington Street, just inside 465.

Looking to install an ignition interlock in Indianapolis Indiana? Call 888-812-9495 or go here to book your appointment at Auto Appeal.  They’ll see that you’re back on the road, and fast.

Your Hump-Day Recess: From Hot Wheels, A Small Reminder About Drunk Driving

Why don’t teenagers listen to their parents? Why don’t people pay attention to public service ads? Often , it’s the messenger as much as the message. If the warning is coming from a familiar source – such as parents or a government agency – the intended audience tends to tune out. Who wants to hear yet another proclamation from those people that are always telling us how to live our lives?

Change the messenger, on the other hand, and the message might get through. A few years back the advertising firm of Ogilvy & Mather decided to sent its anti-drunk-driving message via a much-loved source: Hot Wheels cars. The ubiquitous toys bring a smile to most people’s faces, which is why the campaign, which featured Hot Wheels keychains, hits home.

Hot Wheels Anti-Drunk Driving Message via Keychain

(click image to enlarge)

The campaign addresses a particularly tenacious misconception: that you can still drink if you’ve only had a small amount of alcohol. Mumbai has a serious drunk driving problem, and part of it stems from drivers not realizing how little alcohol it takes to be too impaired to drive. Drivers who drove to a pub called the Little Door found these attached to their keys when they reclaimed their cars from the valet.

Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, the world’s worst traffic jams, a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New Zealand, the world’s worst car modification, Vince and Larry, our favorite crash test dummies, and a karaoke microphone breathalyzer

A New Washington Bill Will Trap Those Trying to Dodge their Ignition Interlock

In states around the country, ignition interlock laws are far from a settled matter. But even if some states have weak laws, the trend is going in one direction: legislators are constantly attempting to strengthen and refine these laws so they can perform better the task of keeping drunk drivers off the road. trap-non-compliant-ignition-interlock-usersThat means catching and getting tough on offenders who try to dodge the responsibilities that come with using an ignition interlock device.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Washington State is the most recent state to consider new laws that will boost the power of ignition interlock devices to prevent deaths due to alcohol-related crashes. House Bill 1276, which has passed in the House and now moves to the Senate, mandates two changes that are designed to bring down the number of DUI deaths in the state

  • Ignition interlock users who have someone else blow into the device in order to circumvent the breath test will be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
  • Devices will have to include GPS technology so that law enforcement agencies can track drivers whom they believe have tried to circumvent the interlock.

The fate of the law in the Senate’s hands is unclear – having two houses divided on the strictness of DUI measures is fairly common across the country. But with new ignition interlock laws in New Mexico, Texas, Maryland and others states on deck, the trend is undeniable: eventually most or all states in the US will mandate ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses with a BAC over .08, with efforts made to trap those who attempt to circumvent the device or otherwise fail to comply, and levy appropriate penalties.

When that day comes, the country will be a safer place to drive.

In New Mexico, A DWI Checkpoint That Is Also a DWI Memorial

It was, in its way, as appropriate as a memorial service. In Santa Fe recently, police set up a DWI checkpoint at a street corner in honor of two teenage girls. The girls had been killed by a drunk driver at that exact spot five years ago.

A DWI Checkpoint Served as a Memorial to Two New Mexico VictimsOne of the policemen who stopped drivers to look for signs of impairment told the stories of the girls to the people in the car, as a way of bringing home the impact of drunk driving.

In 2010 Deshauna and Del Lynn Peshlakai, 17 and 19, were in town for a basketball tournament when they were killed by James Ruiz, who was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.22, almost three times the legal limit.  Ruiz had five DWI arrests behind him, and was out on bond for the most recent one when the crash occurred at the intersection of Cerrilos and Cristo’s Road.

For years friends and relatives of drunk driving victims have made the sites of DWI deaths into memorials, decorating the area with flowers, mementoes, and plaques. A checkpoint is a very different approach, though. Rather than just remind passersby of the lethal effects of drunk driving, it actually takes drunk drivers off the road (four arrests were made during the five-hour checkpoint).

DWI-MemorialThink of it – if four drunk drivers passed through the intersection of Cerrilos and Cristo’s Road that night, then there are probably four or so there every night. It just happens that these four were caught. But there will be other nights, and other intersections, and police will never catch them all.

Perhaps this memorial checkpoint fostered a bit of awareness of this sad story, and some of the people drove away with the realization that drunk driving is a  preventable crime. If so, job well done.

Baltimore Ravens Cut Bernard Pierce –
Is DUI Finally Unacceptable in the NFL?

Just hours after he was arrested for DUI, the Baltimore Ravens cut Bernard Pierce from the team. Why is this news? Were Pierce a truck driver, teacher, or nurse, his job would of course be on the line for an alcohol-related offense. Are football players different?

Bernard Pierce Booking PhotoThe answer is yes. Pierce’s dismissal is news because for years the NFL has been lax in disciplining players for crimes off the field. And no crime is more common in professional football than DUI. From 2000 to 2014, 713 players were arrested. 202 of those arrests were for driving under the influence. Entire sites are dedicated to the transgressions of football players.

Professional football is a lucrative business, and the people who ultimately make the product that’s being sold are the players. So the NFL and the NFL Players Association have been cautious in reining in errant players merely because they pose a danger to society. It must be said that progress has been made in recent years; the NFL’s alcohol policy now calls for a two-game ban for a first violation, and stiffer penalties for repeat offenses. But that is still a far cry from immediate dismissal, the call made by the Ravens.

Football-and-dui-comboIt took a scandal the magnitude of the Ray Rice affair to nudge the Ravens into such strict action. According to reports, Pierce told police that he would be cut from the team; while the Ravens have no written policy, the management had warned players that they would face dismissal if they tangled with the law.

Pierce admitted to having had had three shots of Jack Daniels, and was going 55 mph in a 30 mph zone in Towson, Maryland.

Is self-monitoring by teams the answer? Will all the franchises take DUI as seriously as the Ravens are? Public opinion is the real driver here. Because fans have expressed outrage at teams that condone illegal behavior, one team has decided to hold their players to a higher standard.

If the public keeps up the noise – if we show our approval of the Ravens for their decision – maybe the other teams will follow Baltimore’s example.


Welcome to LifeSafer: Auto Specialists of Milford Connecticut

Auto-Specialists-Milford-CT-LifeSafer1In Connecticut, one auto repair shop that won’t leave you hanging is Auto Specialists of Milford. Since 1997, motorists all over the state have depended on Auto Specialists for every kind of auto work, from oil changes and brakes to engine swaps and transmissions. Now Auto Specialists of Milford is a proud provider of LifeSafer ignition interlocks.

Auto Specialists will take care of all of your interlock needs, from installation to training to regular monitoring appointments.  They ‘ll take it as their mission to see that you get back on the road  legally and safely.

Auto-Specialists-of-Milford-LifeSafer-Ignition-InterlockWith four bays and three experienced technicians, the shop has the resources to handle any kind of job. “We’re a family shop – we treat everyone like family,” says proprietor Eddie V, who has been known to get out of bed at midnight to tow a customer in distress. When they do a job, it’s all in writing, so that the customer knows what’s been done and what to expect.  That’s probably why they serve motorists all over the state – from Mystic to Litchfield and beyond. They’re known for going that extra mile for customers.

To get to Auto Specialists from Route 95, take exit 34 and go right on Route 1.  Naugatuck Avenue is the fifth light. And know that you, your ignition interlock, and your vehicle in the best possible hands.

If you’re near Milford Connecticut or anywhere in the state and you need an ignition interlock, call 888-812-9495 or go here to make an appointment with Auto Specialists of Milford. They’ll treat you right.

Your Hump-Day Recess: A Radar Reminder That Speeding is Lethal

We’re all familiar with those radar speed signs that let the drivers of passing cars know if they’re driving too fast. The town of Elm Grove, Wisconsin decided to offer a warning message with their sign. It doesn’t just tell you how fast you’re going – it tells you where you’re headed if you don’t slow down.

Elm Grove Wisconsin - Speeding is Lethal!

We give them “A” for originality, and a “B” for logic – people traveling under the speed limit would still merit 20 or so days in the hospital, it would seem. Nevertheless, the sign is a visible, dramatic reminder of the real consequences of speeding and reckless driving.

After the Second World War police forces around the US adopted radar technology for the peacetime use. In the 1950s, as the Interstate highway system grew, so did radar detection. While radar helps catch and ticket thousands of speeders every year, signs like these are valuable for making roads safer.

Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of drunk driving and road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, a thought-provoking UK ad celebrating 50 years of Think! a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New Zealand, Vince and Larry, the Crash Test Dummies, and a karaoke microphone breathalyzer.