Stealing a Semi? Make Sure It’s Got an Ignition Interlock.

adding-ignition-interlock-violation-to-theftStealing cars and trucks is illegal, as it should be. Stealing semitrailers is considered somewhat more serious, since it’s a gigantic and expensive rig. You’d think that you’d be in enough trouble if you’d boosted a semi, but a man from Humphrey, Nebraska managed to incur an additional penalty: he was only allowed to drive a vehicle with an ignition interlock, and the stolen trailer truck didn’t have one.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Mark Ramaekers had a restriction on his license that forbade him from driving anything that didn’t have an interlock device on it.

For whatever reason, Ramaekers left his pickup truck and took the semi, which was worth a lot more.  According to news reports he planned to settle up the difference later.

So not only was the offender charged with theft, he also racked up an ignition interlock violation, since the terms of his agreement gave him driving privileges in exchange for using the device at all times. The theft was the more serious crime in terms of possible punishment.

Why is ignition interlock violation so serious? Because driving without an ignition interlock means that the offender is liable to drink and drive, a crime which takes 10,000 lives per year. It would be hard to tally up lives lost due to auto theft, but it would come nowhere near that.

The moral: ignition interlocks laws are meant to be followed. And if you want to trade up from your pickup truck, try a used car dealer.