Kicks a Police Officer, Bites a Firefighter. Why? No Interlock!

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resist-dui-arrest-no-interlockA day that begins with drinking is a day that could end any number of ways, many of them bad. That’s because, as we now know, alcohol shuts off the alarm in our brains that makes us care about doing destructive and risky things. As a result, the chain of bad decisions made on booze can be spectacular, and when driving is involved, they can be frightening as well. Recently it made a Washington State woman resist DUI arrest.

The woman caused a four-car crash in Edgewood, Washington. She was arrested trying to walk back to her house. A bottle of wine – almost empty – was sticking out of her purse.

While being arrested she kicked a deputy in the leg. Ultimately she was restrained, but despite being strapped to a backboard, she tried to bite firefighters who were taking her to a hospital for a blood draw.

Among the charges: assault and hit-and-run. More telling: failure to have an ignition interlock and first-degree driving while suspended. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Suspensions Don’t Work – Interlocks Do

Once again, we have a case of someone who had been suspended for drunk driving, but who was driving anyway. Statistics bear out that suspending a person’s license is an ineffective way of stopping him or her from driving: about half to three-quarters of suspended motorists drive anyway.

But worse is the lack of an interlock. Had this offender had the ignition interlock on her SUV, there would probably have been no crash, and probably no attempt to resist DUI arrest. Likely no kicking or biting, either. That’s because an ignition interlock would not have allowed her to drive unless she was sober.

So, why didn’t she have the ignition interlock, which had obviously been ordered after her last suspension?

The simple answer is, no one checks that an offender actually shows up at the ignition interlock provider and has the interlock installed. True, the license remains suspended, but too many offenders, particularly repeat offenders with drinking problems, are willing to take that risk and drive on a suspended license. They aren’t caught unless they’re stopped for DUI – or cause a 4-car crash, flee the scene, and try to bite a firefighter.

It’s not just Washington State – other states have a compliance problem. States need a better mechanism to ensure that drivers get the interlock, whether that involves impoundment or other measure.

Because having technology that prevents drunk driving, and offenders that don’t use it really bites.

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Showing 3 comments
  • DL Stickler

    It is a certainty that some people do not install the ignition interlock when ordered. I see items on the internet every day that indicate that some people ignore the order of the court or their state to install interlock devices.

    The question is what to do about it? How can we force people who are ordered by a court of state to comply?

    • Charles Hickman

      There’s a lot more that can be done. The Sobriety Court model works well – offenders are supervised, and the supervisor makes sure that the interlock is installed and he or she reviews the test data each month.

      • DL Stickler

        It would certainly be a good thing if Courts here in Ohio decided to follow similar models in all jurisdictions. In fact, it looks as if the Michigan’ Problem Solving Courts are positively effecting recidivism rates.

        I know that we generally do hear many of our customers state emphatically that they never want to get in trouble again while they are in our programs.

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