“My Wife Caused DUI Crash” — Says Man Driving Alone

wife caused DUI crashFile this under “head scratcher.”

A man in Lincoln, Nebraska rear-ended another car recently, and was arrested for drunk driving. His blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .226, almost three times the legal .08 level.

The man, Jose Adame, told the police his wife was responsible for the DUI crash. Police didn’t follow up the lead, since Mr. Adame was alone in the car at the time.

Was the wife responsible? We’re not going to examine that, because the issue that the arrest highlights is more interesting.

Where was the ignition interlock?

Adame had 3 previous drunk driving convictions, and was supposed to be using an ignition interlock, a device which prevents the car from starting if the driver has been drinking.  The devices have been proven to reduce alcohol-related road fatalities.

But they need to be installed. And this one wasn’t.

The driver claimed he didn’t have the money to install the interlock, which costs $2 – $3 per day to operate. The problem is that anyone who has 3 previous drunk driving convictions, and who is caught with a BAC of .226, must have an ignition interlock installed as a matter of public safety.

How can Nebraska ensure that the public is protected from drunk drivers like this?

Ensuring everyone can afford one. Nebraska has handled this one. The state has an indigent fund, operated through the DMV, that can pay for an ignition interlock installation and monthly fees. In order to use it, the offender must have documents proving indigent status.

If this offender couldn’t afford one, the indigent fund should have applied. Otherwise:

Ensuring that all devices get installed. Many states with ignition interlock laws are startlingly lax on ensuring that the device is actually installed. They rely on the offender’s word, and if they ignore the installation order nothing happens until the offender has been arrested – or has crashed. Nebraska needs to ensure compliance. One possible way would be for the state to demand proof of installation within two weeks of the order, and notify the police if the proof is not forthcoming.

This drunk driving crash could have been prevented. Nebraska has the ignition interlock and an indigent fund to help out those who can’t afford the device. All that’s needed is more will to ensure that the most dangerous people on the road comply with orders and use the device.

And perhaps his wife needs a talking-to. But we doubt she’s the problem.