NY Driver Caught By Ignition Interlock
Camera Driving Illegally — 18 Times!

If one needed to cite a reason why the ignition interlock was invented, one might offer the name Christian J. Finkney.

CameraAn ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. It was invented not strictly because of Mr. Finckney but because he exemplifies a rule that experts in the world of law enforcement know: license suspensions don’t work.

Mr. Finkney of Wyoming, New York had his own license revoked for an alcohol-related driving conviction. He proceeded to drive his girlfriend’s car no less than 18 times. We know the precise number of times because the girlfriend’s car was equipped with an ignition interlock. In New York State interlocks also require a camera to be installed, so that authorities can verify that the person driving is also the person who took the breath test.

Test-Fail-Ignition-InterlockAs a result, both Finkney and his girlfriend Ashly Boatwright are liable to charges:

  • Driving while suspended
  • Facilitating unlicensed operation of a car
  • Circumventing of an interlock device (Boatwright was seen breathing into the device so that Finkney could drive, despite having presumably drunk alcohol)

Usually recitals of crimes like these end with a cry of “take away their licenses!” But Finkney had no license. In fact, more than half of all drivers with suspended licenses drive under suspension. Suspension is a well-meaning but ineffective way to punish violators. And when the offense is drunk driving, suspension places other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians in danger. Because a drunk driver, if suspended, will more than likely drink and drive again.

Most offenders, after being required to install an ignition interlock, do not drive drunk while in the interlock program. Interlocks are proven to reduce recidivism among drunk drivers. And in the case of incorrigible re-offenders such as the subject of today’s post, the interlock/camera combination will do its job and alert the authorities.

12 Hours Makes a Life-Or-Death Difference
For Washington Drunk Drivers

Sometimes it takes time for laws to catch up with the realities of people’s behavior.

12-HOURSEven before 2011, Washington State had some pretty strict DUI laws. The state passed an all-offender ignition interlock law in 2009, and has made other improvements since, all with a view toward keeping drunk drivers off the road. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) gives Washington 4 out of a possible 5 stars for its efforts combatting drunk driving.

But state troopers in Spokane noticed a loophole that was putting people in danger: drivers arrested for drunk driving were posting bail immediately and driving home – often while still drunk.

It can take a long time for alcohol to leave one’s system. In the case of very high levels of drunkenness, alcohol can stay in the bloodstream for many hours, causing impaired judgment, poor vision, and compromised reflexes. It’s not uncommon for someone who has had great deal of alcohol to go to bed and wake up still unfit to drive the next day.

Yet there were cases in Spokane in which a person arrested with, say, a .16 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) would be out and driving in a couple of hours, when the driver should have had the keys taken away for 10 hours at least.

Towed CarThe situation needed to change, and change it did, in 2011. That was the year a new provision required DUI offenders to wait 12 hours before retrieving their cars from the impound lot. In 12 hours just about anyone can sober up.

Recently the television station KREM 2 checked to see how successful the new rule has been.

As it happens, it’s worked very well indeed. 99% of all cars of drunk drivers are impounded in Spokane. On average they retrieve their cars two days later. In 2014 alone, 1100 cars have been impounded – that’s 1100 drivers given a chance to sober up before getting back behind the wheel.

We hope more states follow Washtington’s example and pass well-thought-out DUI legislation like this.

Half of Wisconsin’s Serious OWI Offenders Thumb their Noses at Interlock Law

A curious headline appeared over an AP article about Wisconsin in Chicago’s Daily Herald: “More Than Half of Offenders Installed Interlocks.”Wisconsin drunk drivers thumb nose at justice

Sounds encouraging, doesn’t it? Perhaps it means that more than half of Wisconsin’s OWI offenders have chosen on their own to install ignition interlocks, devices which keep prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. That would be good news, as ignition interlock devices are known to reduce alcohol-related road deaths.

What the headline doesn’t tell you is that those ignition interlocks were mandatory – the result of judicial orders. Running the same article, WXOW-TV in La Crosse got the phrasing right: “Only little more than half of offenders installed interlocks.”

In fact, 56 percent of 14,000 offenders installed the devices as ordered. The remaining 44 percent, or 6160 drivers, did not.

In other words, 6,160 drivers are on Wisconsin roads in open defiance of the courts. And since Wisconsin is notoriously lenient when it comes to OWI matters, those drivers would have been convicted for high-BAC or repeat offenses — exactly the type of offenders who are likely to drive drunk again.

There are reasons that drunk drivers don’t install interlock devices as ordered. The two provided in the article:

  • People choose to flout the law
  • Offenders can’t afford the interlocks

The first reason points to poor enforcement. If there are no consequences for non-compliance with a law, and no checking to see who has complied, people will disobey it. The solution is for Wisconsin to get behind the ignition interlock program and ensure that people are installing them. It can be done: the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set down guidelines for how an ignition interlock program should be run.

The second reason given is a genuine problem, but also a surmountable one. Many states have indigent programs that supplement or take over the cost of an ignition interlock if the offender cannot pay it. The device should be seen not as a punishment but as a protection for the public. As such, public funding is justifiable.

The Wisconsin legislature has been making efforts to bring the state’s drunk driving legislation up to the standards that have been set by states such as Washington and New York. Those efforts are laudable. But no legislation can be of help unless it is properly enforced.

A tough, comprehensive OWI law with good enforcement: that would make a great headline in Wisconsin.

New LifeSafer Ignition Interlock Location:
Central Garage in Lake Placid, New York

If you need an oil change in Lake Placid, New York, you might well entrust your car to Central Garage. So might have your parents – or your grandparents! Central garage has been changing spark plugs and fixing ball joints since 1959.

Central Garage  Lifesafer Ignition Interlock providerNow this venerable garage has joined the LifeSafer family. They are available to install, monitor and service LifeSafer ignition interlocks.

Cars have changed since Eisenhower was president, but their standards of service remain high – they would have to, to stick around for more than a half century. Central garage serves Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and other towns in the Tri-Lakes region. Jay Strack, one of the proprietors, says that Central Garage offers a complete service – anything from tires to brakes to engine work. “We take care of our customers here,” says Jay, “and we do it at a reasonable price.”

59-chevyFive technicians are at the ready to help customers get rolling again fast. And now those very able technicians will be installing and calibrating your LifeSafer ignition interlock.

If you need an ignition interlock in the Lake Placid area, call 888-812-9495 or go here to make an appointment.

Your Hump-Day Recess:
Dramatic Buzzed Driving PSA

Over these last months, our Hump Day Recess has featured a number of anti-drunk driving messages of different types. We’ve praised the various departures from the traditional “scare” ad – messages that work through humor, or by thinking through the other consequences of drunk driving (personal, financial, social), rather than just the dangers.

But occasionally it’s good to be reminded of the dangers. From Texas, which has a reputation for intriguing ads promoting sober driving, comes an ad aimed at millennials. The subject is buzzed driving – the practice of driving after one has drunk enough to get a slight “buzz” – a relaxed feeling that does not feel like true impairment, but definitely is. Also embedded in the ad is the idea of interruption – that one accident changes everything in life: friendships, plans, good times. Well done, Texas Department of Transportation.

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: car safety, animals, posters. traffic jams, more posters, fake microbrews a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, a Star Wars anti-drunk driving messageour 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 Cool 1950s Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Poster, He Got a DUI on a WHAT? a 1970s Alcohol Mythbuster,  Halloween Drunk Driving, a brewery that keeps its anti-drunk driving message under its cap, and a thought-provoking UK ad celebrating 50 years of their historic Think! campaign.

4 Reasons Why the DUI Limit
Should be Lowered to .05

Most American drivers know the significance of the number .08. That is the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level that marks the legal definition of impairment. If you are arrested with a BAC of .08 or above, you face serious charges in almost all states. Punishments can include fines, jail time, and ignition interlocks, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

But is .08 low enough? The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) doesn’t think so. Neither do some researchers.

DUI-MeterIn May of this year the NTSB recommended lowering the legal limit to .05. A press release announced the organization’s position: “research … showed that although impairment begins with the first drink, by 0.05 BAC, most drivers experience a decline in both cognitive and visual functions, which significantly increases the risk of a serious crash.” The statement went on to recommend the .05 limit for all 50 states.

Independent non-profit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation published a comprehensive review of the literature on BAC limits. The review supports the NTSB’s recommendation.

The PIRE study points out four facts that make a convincing case for lowering the current .08 limit to .05:

  • Virtually all drivers lose some driving ability at a BAC of .05
  • The risk of being involved in a crash increases at that BAC level
  • If there is a crash, the risk of being killed in it also increases if the driver is at the .05 level
  • Lowering the limit has been effective in many countries. In fact, most industrialized nations have DUI laws prohibiting driving with a BAC of .05 or greater

For the record, an average male would need at least four drinks within 2 hours to exceed .05. An average-sized female would need three. Most people would admit that they can’t bring their A-game to driving with that many drinks in them. Yet laws in the US do not keep them from getting behind the wheel.

The NTSB noted other effective anti-drunk-driving strategies as well:

  • High-visibility enforcement efforts, such as sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols
  • Specialized DWI courts in addressing the challenge of repeat offenders

The NTSB also supports ignition interlock legislation, and recommends that states put in place methods to improve compliance with interlock laws.

Will the DUI limit be lowered to .05 anytime soon? Supporters will find it hard going. States have varying approaches to drunk driving, from over-lenient to incredibly tough. Imposing the lower BAC limit on drivers will probably only happen if the federal government takes the lead, as it did with seat belts and other road safety measures in the past.

A DUI Conviction Never Blows Over

You might think you know the consequences of a DUI conviction. The anti-drunk-driving ads usually lay out the basics: an arrest for driving under the influence can lead to fines, jail time, and loss of license. Many states mandate an ignition interlock on your vehicle, even for a first DUI offense. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

background-checkYou might think it will eventually blow over, and you can put it all behind you.

Except you can’t. If the judge pronounces you guilty, there are a lot more changes to your life that you need to deal with, ones that can have an effect long after the jail time is over, the interlock is removed, and the fine is paid.

Insurance Costs Skyrocket. There is no way to escape a rise in car insurance after a DUI. Expect to pay an extra $1100 a year, or more. For how long? That depends on how many years your state keeps DUIs on record. It can be three years, or ten. So chances are you’ll part with thousands. Your health insurance will cost more, if you don’t get denied a policy. And your life insurance rate will also go up.

Travel Restrictiondrinker-transparents. Some countries don’t allow anyone with a DUI into the country; Canada and the UK are examples, as are China and Japan. So you’ll have to check before you go abroad on vacation, to see if you’re welcome in that country. And it won’t be possible to rent a car while traveling either.LoanAppDenied

Employment hassles. If your work requires access to vehicles, you’re in trouble. If you’re in the military, you could be discharged. Are you a scoutmaster? Teacher? Anyone who works with kids? You might not have that option anymore. If you own a franchise, the main office might have a clause excluding you from your contract. Many businesses, (car insurance, pharmaceuticals, law enforcement) will terminate you because of their own rules or because their insurance company demands it.

Education hassles. You can lose scholarships if you have a DUI.

Loan difficulties. Ever notice how, on loan applications, you’re asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony? You’ll have to answer “Yes” now. And you will probably pay a higher interest rate.

More hassles. Think of another place you’ve seen that question about felony conviction: on a lease. If you’re renting an apartment, you might not be able to choose where to live. A lot of landlords can afford to be choosy. A lot of professional certifications (as a nurse or therapist for example) will be out of bounds. Your credit score will go down. And anyone who Googles you (friend, prospective employer, prospective spouse) might find your mug shot.

It’s something to think about when you’ve had that last drink and you’re contemplating whether to call a taxi or risk a drive home. A DUI never blows over.

What One Man’s Admission Says About
Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws

A Wisconsin man is going to prison for his eighth drunk driving conviction. Every state has many such repeat offenders, and the four-and-a-half year sentence George Gamboeck George-Gamboeckis about to undergo seems appropriate. But what is remarkable about Gamboeck’s case is what he told investigators: that he had driven intoxicated hundreds of times.

While Gamboeck’s admission is unusual, it’s far from surprising to law enforcement personnel or alcohol counselors. There are always those who, for a variety of reasons, refuse to admit that they can’t get behind the wheel after drinking.

The Repeat Offender Problem

What to do about hardcore repeat OWI offenders? Wisconsin drunk driving laws appear not to be up to the job. Suspensions don’t work – Gamboeck had a suspended license, as many such offenders do. More than half of suspended drivers continue to drive. But if Gamboeck had had an ignition interlock on his vehicle, the three-car-crash that caused his arrest would never have happened. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

A Better Way: How Washington State Handles Repeat Offenders

Some states have ignition interlock laws that help keep serious repeat offenders off the road. If Gamboeck had committed his third OWI in Washington State instead of Wisconsin, he would have had to have an ignition interlock on his vehicle for ten years. And even then, he could not have it removed if he failed to blow clean tests for four months in a row. In short, he would have either driven sober, or Drinking and drivinghe’d have stayed in his driveway. Missouri adds up to six months to an offender’s interlock period if they fail a breath test. With laws like that, people who do not have an alcohol problem, or who manage it successfully, can remove their interlocks after the period is over. And those who continue to drink will not be able to drive.

Ignition interlocks are the closest thing we have to a solution for the problem that drunk drivers like Gamboeck represent. They can’t cure alcoholism, but they can keep those who are out of control from endangering their fellow drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

New LifeSafer Location in Pennsylvania: Maximum Car Security & Audio of Reading, PA

Maximum-Car-Security-LifeSafer-SignIf you are doing up your ride in Reading, Pennsylvania – or anywhere in the eastern part of the state – chances are that you’ve dealt with Maximum Car Security & Audio.  Formerly in Kenhorst, the well-known shop has now moved to a new location on Arlington Street in Reading, Pennsylvania. A longtime provider of LifeSafer ignition interlocks, Maximum Car Security & Audio will continue to give customers the shop’s premium brand of service, installing, monitoring, servicing and removing ignition interlocks and taking care of the needs of LifeSafer’s customers in the Reading area.

Over the past 11 years, Maximum has served drivers from Philadelphia and New York and beyond. They offer a full line of car modifications including remote start, alarms, keyless entry, audio, headliners, tires, rims, vinyl work, tinting, and more.

Maximum-Secuity-Audio-LifesaferThe owner, Jay C. Galan, has worked on the cars of well-known athletes and other notables, who spread the word about his services. “The customer is number 1 with me,” says Jay. “With the Internet, there are a lot of choices, but my pricing, customer service, and long experience people keep coming back.”

Maximum works on all makes of vehicles. Whether it’s an interlock or a new alarm system, Maximum has the knowledge of car electrical systems to make the installation precise and flawless.

If you’re looking to install an ignition interlock, and you’re in Reading or anywhere in eastern Pennsylvania, call 888-812-9495 or go here to book your appointment at Maximum Car Security and Audio. They’ll get you back on the road legally, and safely and without delay.

Your Hump-Day Recess: Brilliant UK Ad
Celebrates 50-Year Decline in Drunk Driving

Nobody does advertising like the Brits. Their knack for ads that surprise you and make you think is unmatched in the world of communications. Case in point: the Department for Transport’s PSA celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UK’s Don’t Drink and Drive Campaign.

As the Department’s site points out, attitudes have changed over those years. Some 92% of UK drivers are ashamed to drink and drive.  As anyone who lived there in the 1960s can attest, it was not always so. Back in those days it was against the law to drive if one were “drunk and incapable” – a vague designation easy to evade. Which is why alcohol claimed more than 1,600 lives on the road in 1964.

Now it’s down to 230.  But the ad’s point, made brilliantly to the nostalgic music of Kool and the Gang, is that the work is not yet finished:

The UK campaign is called Think! and it is based on a five-point strategy:

  • Beware the morning after: you could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it’s the “morning after”
  • There is no excuse for drink driving: we’ve all heard the excuses, but they don’t change the facts
  • If you’re planning to drink, plan your trip home: designated driver, public transport, whatever it takes
  • Don’t offer alcohol to someone you know will drive
  • Don’t accept a lift from a driver you know has been drinking

It’s not a lot to have to remember. But clearly it’s saved a lot of UK lives.

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: car safety, animals, posters. traffic jams, more posters, fake microbrews a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, a Star Wars anti-drunk driving messageour 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 Cool 1950s Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Poster, He Got a DUI on a WHAT? a 1970s Alcohol Mythbuster,  Halloween Drunk Driving, and a brewery that keeps its anti-drunk driving message under its cap.