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Friday July 31, 2015

Ignition Interlock Devices
posted by Jonathan Hodge
Tags: In the news 

On June 24, 2015 in the commowealth of Kentucky, new more severe DUI laws and penalties went into effect, however, provisions under these statutes adopted the use of Ignition Interlock Devices. An Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”) or breath alcohol ignition interlock device is a hand-held device about the size of a television remote control used to prevent an impaired driver from starting and operating a motor vehicle.  Upon installation into the vehicle, the device will prevent the engine from being started, or stop the engine, if it detects the presence of alcohol on the breath of the operator.  

Using the IID, the operator of the motor vehicle is required to exhale into the device.  If the device detects the presence of alcohol, the device prevents the vehicle from being started and operated.  The device also requires randomly requires the operator to submit samples after the vehicle is started.  The IID will not disable a moving vehicle, though a positive sample submitted while moving will cause the vehicle’s lights to flash and horn to honk, drawing unwanted attention to the vehicle and to the impaired driver.

In Kentucky, the IID is used in conjunction with a ‘hardship license,’ where a DUI defendant can obtain limited driving privileges by motion for the court to determine whether hardship driving privileges should be granted.  Typically, hardship driving privileges are reserved upon the defendant’s showing of need for the purpose of employment, education, medical care, alcohol/substance abuse education programs or other court ordered counseling programs. By statute, this hardship privilege may be conditioned on the offender operating only motor vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices.

To get the IID privileges, the defendant must complete a series of procedural hurdles to gain the necessary authorization from a court.  By statute, no court shall grant authorization for a person to operate motor vehicles or motorcycles equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device, unless and until the person provides proof that the person has been issued or has filed a completed application with the Transportation Cabinet for issuance of an ignition interlock license and provides the court with a certificate of installation of an ignition interlock device issued by a certified ignition interlock device provider.  

The IID carries costs, of course.  The applicant will be responsible for payment of a fee to the Transportation Cabinet not to exceed $200 dollars and will be responsible for payment of the purchase or lease, all costs of installation, servicing and monitoring of the device.  The costs of the IID itself is set by the provider, however, there is a way for gaining the privilege on a cost-adjusted basis.

Though the law went into effect on June 24, 2015, there have been problems with implementation of the law.  Many lawyers and judges in Kentucky are aware that the state was simply not ready for implementation of the IID provisions. It is common knowledge that the Transportation Cabinet was not prepared to issue the ignition interlock licenses and that providers of the IIDs were not in place to provide the devices.  To evidence this fact, as of July 31, 2015, the Transportation Cabinet’s website states that “Currently, Kentucky's Ignition Interlock Device program is being renovated to meet the standards of new regulations.  Please check back later for further updates.”

Due to these problems with obtaining the IID and hardship licenses, a Jefferson County District Court Judge recently denied a request from a prosecutor to suspend the license of a man charged with driving drunk because the interlock device was not available as an alternative option, as required by the new law.  Until the Transportation Cabinet resolves its problems and additional IID providers resolve the supply issues, there are opportunities for compromises that benefit the accused.  

At present, Kentucky Courts’ application and implementation of this law is still developing.  Persons who are affected by these problems or those who seek more information about the law and its application to their circumstances are encouraged to call to discuss the IID and hardship licenses with attorney Jonathan Hodge at Barber, Banaszynski & Hiatt.