Ignition Interlock In Hawaii
For many years, Hawaii has been one of the worst states in the nation in terms of the percent of total fatal traffic crashes which are alcohol-related. This disturbing ranking is baffling, because our state leaders — legislative, executive, Judiciary and community — have done so much to combat drunk driving.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), like many other organizations in Hawaii and on the mainland, believes that people who are still driving drunk are doing it because they can — in spite of all the laws currently in place. In response to this sad fact, most states now recommend the use of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles of DUI offenders, and several states require interlocks for all offenders. Up until now, Hawaii was one of only four states with no ignition interlock law of any kind.
Interlock devices are small, sophisticated instruments installed into the starting circuit of vehicles. They are about the size of a cell phone. The driver blows into the device using a special technique that discourages others, who have not been trained, from performing the procedure. Some devices also come equipped with a digital camera that takes a synchronized photo of the person initiating the test. In just a few seconds, the device determines if the operator is alcohol-impaired, based on pre-programmed parameters. The vehicle starts up for a sober driver and will not start for a drinking driver. Periodic re-tests are required after the car is underway. A data logger captures and reports all pertinent data, including attempts to circumvent or tamper with the device.
Offenders, not taxpayers, absorb the costs for the installation and operation of these devices. Offenders themselves favor interlock, because they can avoid a lengthy judicial or administrative license suspension that may precipitate a job loss or life-altering circumstances. With an interlock device, the offender is able to drive normally, pursuing his/her daily activities and career — but the public is safer, and lives are saved.
Over the last three years, the Department of Transportation has chaired a Task Force comprised of all major “stakeholders” in impaired driving: legislators, government agencies, the Judiciary, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, drivers licensing, and community agencies like MADD. The final version of the new interlock law was approved unanimously by the House and Senate on April 27, 2010, and signed by Lt. Governor Aiona on June 14.
A generation of studies has shown how effective ignition interlock is in preventing drunk driving. Starting January 1st, 2011, Hawai’i will implement ignition interlock as a proven way to protect ourselves and our keiki from the nation’s most frequently committed, and 100 percent preventable, violent crime — drunk driving.