Albuquerque Woman Gets Child to Take Her Ignition Interlock Test – And Blows it Big Time

Cynthia Griego – Charged With
DWI and Child Endangerment

It does happen. Not often, but once in a while. A DWI offender, ordered to install an ignition interlock, decides to flout the law by enlisting his or her child to blow into the device in order to continue to drive drunk.

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

Recently a woman in Albuquerque was arrested for allegedly driving drunk. Her 10-year-old son told officers he was “forced” to blow into the interlock.

Some people cite incidents like this as a reason that ignition interlocks don’t work – despite evidence to the contrary. They say “you can always get someone to bypass them for you.”

In fact, attempts to spoof a breath test are almost always tried with children – adults know better than to enable a drunk driver and risk a collision or criminal charges. Driving drunk with a child is a serious crime. Usually it’s a felony, making the driver liable for prison time.

And they almost always get arrested. Why?  Because they’re driving drunk, and police have been ever more vigilant in looking for drunk drivers. Patrols are more frequent, public sentiment has turned against impaired driving, and laws are getting stricter all the time. Such drivers might think they can stay in control and pretend to be a sober driver, but they make more driving mistakes than they think, and they are eventually observed.

It remains, though, that forcing a child to blow into a car breathalyzer to enable it to start is a particularly despicable crime, not only against the state and other drivers and pedestrians, but against the child. In fact, it usually qualifies as child endangerment and neglect, and even child abuse.

The Case for Camera Interlocks

LifeSafer Camera Ignition Interlock
LifeSafer FC100 Camera Ignition Interlock

A number of states require not just ignition interlocks, but cameras as well, so that a photo of the device in use is recorded along with the breath test data.

When a camera interlock unit is installed in a vehicle, authorities review the photos that accompany the monthly monitoring data. They are able to ensure that the one starting the vehicle is the one ordered to use the interlock.

Next Gen Tech Will Protect Offender’s Children

The new generation of ignition interlocks, such as the LifeSafer FC250, come with technology to measure breath volume. In other words, it can distinguish between the airflow from a child’s lungs and an adult’s. In the absence of a camera, it ensures that an adult is using the interlock.

Of course, the vast majority of people who are required to use an ignition interlock do not cheat. They abide by their restrictions, drive sober, and complete their interlock program without incident. Many report that having the device helped them develop better ways to manage drinking and keep from driving while impaired. That is why half the states in the US now require ignition interlocks for all DWI offenders.

For now, there will be the occasional outlier who tries to cheat the interlock in the most damaging way possible. Camera units and the next generation interlock technology will stop that. Until then, we all need to report drunk driving when we see it. Our vigilance – aided by ignition interlocks – can save lives.