Cameras Protect Mass. Ignition Interlock Users

The Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Device Law only prevents the driver whose license is restricted from operating with blood alcohol readings in excess of .02. This means that family members and others who drive the DUI offender’s vehicle do not violate the law by driving with a low level of blood alcohol. However, in Massachusetts, even low alcohol readings can trigger a license suspension. Therefore, the true identity of the driver in ignition interlock violation cases is often questioned.

In order to address this issue, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires interlock users to sign an acknowledgement which states that “If my Ignition Interlock Device is locked out, I understand that the Registry will consider any lockout of the device to have been caused by me, and also understand that it is my responsibility to inform anyone using my vehicle(s) of that. Since any lockout of my vehicle will be assessed against me, I accept responsibility for any lockouts of the vehicles I own.”

The acknowledgement places an unfair burden on the interlock-restricted driver and unfairly attempts to make him or her responsible for IID lockouts, which may result in a 10 year or lifetime license revocation. Instead of unfairly trying to make the holder of an interlock restricted license automatically responsible for all lockouts, whether he or she was driving or not, technology can be used to determine who was driving at the time alcohol readings were recorded.

At least two interlock companies, Smart Start and Intoxalock, use small cameras to record an image of the person providing breath samples. This protects the driver from alcohol readings caused by others and it further protects the driver by showing that he or she is actually the person providing the breath sample. Images of the person blowing into the IID are very helpful in cases where it is alleged that the ignition interlock restricted driver had someone else blow into the IID. I predict that other interlock companies will offer video-equipped breath alcohol ignition interlock units in the near future. Given the “guilty until proven innocent” theory upon which the Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Program is based, these video-equipped IIDs will be helpful in the defense of drivers accused of certain intelrock violations.