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Do you think breathalyzers should be installed in the cars of all DUI offenders?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 30, 2008

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Photo of Weatherly Butler

“I think it’s a good idea. I’m for anything that makes the road more safe.”

Photo of Christina Wood

“No. I don’t think so. It just seems too strict and unnecessary.””

Photo of Dale Buchheister

“I say no, because I’ve had friends who have gotten DUIs and they go through a lot to get everything back on track. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, so I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Photo of Justin Knudsen

“Yes, absolutely. Nip them in the bud. They’ve probably driven drunk many times before that and will continue to. I think people take it too lightly, and I think the first offense is just as dangerous as the second or third.”

Comments

starbucks 5 years, 10 months ago

The only blowing that should be done in a car......

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starbucks 5 years, 10 months ago

Hell-to-the-NO.idiot drivers are a far greater danger, but we don't give common sense and/or IQ tests before selling a car or granting a driver's license.

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jonas 5 years, 10 months ago

I don't necessarily think it's delusional thinking. For a high level of drunkenness, it is possible, if you have experience being drunk, to retain some level of control in known situations. What really goes, which is a little harder to perceive (especially while drunk) is reaction to new stimulus (can't find the right word), both in terms of visual recognition and ability to act appropriately. It is not terribly difficult to keep a car going straight, even when drunk, provided you have the experience at reigning your thoughts in and focusing. (past certain levels, of course, even this becomes impossible) I don't know if this distinction seems important to you or not, but I consider it vital. Whatever causes a drunk person to drive home the first time (be it bravado, or more likely the perceived necessity over the inconvenience of not being able to drive) it is highly likely, provided they have a regular uneventful trip back, to make it home safely. Having done it once, it becomes more and more easy to justify the choice again and again, and then to higher and higher levels of drunkenness. This is where what I posted above comes in. What they fail to realize, having made the trip safely before, is that they are still not able to react to new situations effectively, and the first time that someone hops out into the road in front of them, or a car swerves the wrong way or turns too quickly, they will not be able to react well enough to avoid it, and That's when disaster happens. I suppose, in light of my previous post, some of you may see some level of personal experience, and you would be right. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have all uneventful journeys, from the first time at 18 before my senior year at high-school, when me and my girlfriend at the time drove all the way back to Leawood from Lee's Summit Missouri (shudder, 15 miles or so, at least 10 along I-470 and I-435), until reason and personal development made me realize that I would eventually kill somebody if I didn't change my ways. To disclaim a little: I consider myself a person of constant and careful consideration, and having not ever lived in anyone's head other than my own, I have no way of knowing if other people thought of all of those things above to the same degree, either during or after their experiences.

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Pro_Counsel 5 years, 10 months ago

Pywacket (Anonymous) says:"I don't think anybody walks out of a bar feeling in his heart that he is really too drunk to drive safely and that he might hurt or kill himself or others. We're not talking about calculating, cold-blooded killers. I think some self-delusion is involved."It's not so much delusional. One of the first things to go when drinking is the ability to make good judgments. In other words, before you actually become physically impaired, you lose the ability to make a good decision as to whether you're physically impaired.I agree it may make some people stop and think. A while back I lived in Virginia, and a lot of the bars in Tidewater had breathalyzers. A lot of people thought it was a game, and tried to outdo one another, which is probably why they disappeared. But one night I was pretty darned surprised to blow a .32, especially as I was considering telling my buddy he should let me drive home because I thought HE was drunk.

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jonas 5 years, 10 months ago

Pywacket: Thanks. I hope they are too. After riding some Chinese domestic flights, though, an American airline feels as smooth as silk. I'm hoping that my flight has the same touch screen on-demand features as the one I had coming in. I'll probably watch the entire Lord of the Rings series. (It's a long flight) As for your post, I agree completely. I think whatever can be done efficiently to help should be implemented, but there's never going to be a feasible total solution for the problem, not even purplesage's suggestion to ban liquor. The 20's showed how well that works out.

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Pywacket 5 years, 10 months ago

Jonas~ I'll play devil's advocate to your scenario. Let's suppose the drunk and sober friends exit the bar together. The sober friend blows into the tube, then sits in the passenger seat, encouraging the friend to drive drunk. Why ?What earthly purpose is served by this odd sequence of events? Isn't it more likely that the person who is able to prove he isn't drunk will simply take the keys? Does he WANT to die, just to be an enabler?That said (and I'm sure there are scenarios that could bear your supposition out), this is not going to be a cure all for drunk-driving recidivism, and I doubt anyone thinks it will be. However, I can see it having some positive effect, and making some drinkers realize that they have had more than they think they've had.I don't think anybody walks out of a bar feeling in his heart that he is really too drunk to drive safely and that he might hurt or kill himself or others. We're not talking about calculating, cold-blooded killers. I think some self-delusion is involved. Maybe the device will short circuit that delusion and help people realize that they need to call for a ride or let someone else drive. It seems worth a try.What's the weather been like where you are? It's pretty muggy now, and the next several days look to be hot, too. If it's cool and/or dry where you are, brace yourself for a few days of Kansas adjustment. Safe travel! May your airline pilots be sober. ;-)

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notajayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Oops, should have said less than 10, not less than 1.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

consumer1 (Anonymous) says: "Here is where this can go completely wrong. All it takes is one useless lawyer to say, your honor my client cannot afford this device. The judge will then be required to either forgo the penalty, but more likely force the state to start supplying these devices to "those who cannot afford them". That means about Three (3) out of every four (4) people arrested for a DUI will claim inability to pay."Except nobody says they have the right to drive in the first place. If they can't afford the device, they can walk.******ohjayhawk (Anonymous) says: "It only takes one time for a drunk driver to kill someone. The initial penalty needs to be harsh in order to keep the behavior from happening in the first place, not to keep the behavior from happening again."And you only have to stop one drunk driver to prevent one death.Would breathalyzers get all drunk drivers off the road? Of course not. How many lives per year makes it worth it? Less than 1,000? Less than 100? Less than 1? Or just one - if it might be you or someone you love.

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cool 5 years, 10 months ago

do they work in convertibles ? LOL

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jonas 5 years, 10 months ago

As a previous repeat drunk driver (I'm not proud of it, but I was young) I would say that this is a pretty reasonable and easy to implement way to address the problem. What's to stop them from getting a friend to blow into the tube? Not much, except their friends are likely coming out of the bar with them, and if they aren't the designated driver, which makes this a moot point, they're probably drunk too.3 days till I get back to the states! It'll be nice to be on the same time-frame as the rest of y'all, as opposed to me being up at 4:30am after a night at the bars! (fun night, and no I didn't drive home. I wouldn't be comfortable driving in Beijing while I was totally sober. Cabs are god-sends.)

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ChristmasCarol 5 years, 10 months ago

That sure would be an expensive endeavor. I don't think so at all. You can foot the bill for that one if you like. I think they should just give them a bit more community service and if you want you can just yank their license.Chalupas and hot sauce I like the green sauce it is non fattening.I will take an oat drink as well thanks.The extended version of the Wall was great. Joy Division kind of sucked for all they could have been (not that any of you paid attention to acts like that ) but so did Madonna for all that mattered. The eighties are over, why doesn't she retire.And why on earth do I actually have to see Michael Jackson on the front page as I log in to Yahoo. His career should definitely be over. I don't care if he went to Brazil after he molested some kids. Not that I buy all that is in the news but he is a freak. I am pretty sure O.J. did it too.I don't even drink but I think that is a bit extreme. I think that is a costly nuisance.

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chula6898 5 years, 10 months ago

"Yes - and if they blow over the limit, the airbag should explode and punch them in the face."Ok..that was just funny. Thanks for the chuckle.

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dminear60 5 years, 10 months ago

rachaelisacancer: If I was not convicned that drinking and driving was before I went to the links you posted, I certainly am now

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Pywacket 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes. They should put one on every car at the person's residence. And if they're caught driving a different (not equipped) car, for any reason (speeding, taillight out, etc), they should receive a ticket and the car should be towed. The "friend" who loaned the person the car will not want to pay towing costs more than once, and will probably not loan it to him/her again.This is one of those "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins" things. Only in this case, your right to drive drunk should end where every innocent person's right to get home alive begins. If a person has learned from receiving a dui (or from killing someone already), and if he/she would no longer ever offend, the device in his/her car will not be an imposition, will it? If he/she falls off the wagon--as frequently happens--the rest of us would have a little insurance by the device being there.I think the rights of "the rest of us" should always supercede the rights of a known offender, whether it's a drunk driver, a child molester, or whatever. It's not society that's hampering the offender's rights--it's his/her own choices.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 5 years, 10 months ago

And they say cell phones are distracting...

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le 5 years, 10 months ago

What about the ole balloon trick? I have heard once that a person with one of these devices in the past fills many balloons when they are sober (may be a myth..I dont know) and after a night of drinking they simply release the ballon air into the device....is this a myth? or is it more creative thinking on the part of the drunks...it seems if this works and if they are intelligent enough to think this crap up ..then why arent they smart enough to form a honest plan for a night on the town..designated driver..a cab..a hotel & a cab...but I guess for many once the drunk gets a few drinks in em..they use poor judgement & will bar hop after having a few! Silly drunkin retards!

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Godot 5 years, 10 months ago

Ooops, did not see Rachelisacancer's posts. Thanks, that answers the question.

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Godot 5 years, 10 months ago

What happens, currently, if there are several cars in the household of a repeat offender? Does the court require that all of them be equipped with a breathalyzer? If not, then what's the use?

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jumpin_catfish 5 years, 10 months ago

Whatever it takes to get drunks off the road, oh longer jail time and steeper fines might be an idea!

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jrudyhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Not being able to afford the device would never be an effective argument. They cost less than a lot of moving violations. Besides, someone that gets convicted of murder often has a ridiculous fine attached upwards of a million bucks. No way in hell that sum will ever be paid in full but there's no argument that the person 'can't pay'. If he/she can't afford it, they can't afford gas or the liquor. And their car gets impounded until the unit is installed. And as far as them switching cars, gimme a break. That dog won't hunt either. Anyone who loans them their car gets charged. Who's gonna loan their ride to an offender when they face jail time for it? Of course it won't stop all the imbeciles out there, but this is more than a 'deterrent'. It's an absolutely effective way to reduce drunk driving to the minimum.

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rachaelisacancer 5 years, 10 months ago

It definitely costs more than $200, plus you have to pay rental fees every month. Also, while it actually is pretty easy to just drive someone else's car and not get caught, it's important for everyone to know that if you get a DUI, you run the risk of having the car impounded for up to a year. It doesn't matter if it's your friend's, your wife's or whoever. If you're driving it under the influence, it could be impounded. It's pretty good punishment for anyone dumb enough to let a drunk drive their car, but it sucks for families with repeat offenders.

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cool 5 years, 10 months ago

my worst driving ?well --- i have not been involved in a crash since 1970 so must be doing something right ?i know that DUI drivers are out there -- and should be stopped from driving.

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purplesage 5 years, 10 months ago

As an alternative to shutting down the breweries, wineries and distillieries, yes. There is no redeeming social value to beverage alcohol and its cost in broken relationships, addiction, accidents and lost time is inestimable.

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le 5 years, 10 months ago

It may be less expensive 4 taxpayers 2 build a seperate set of roads...one for the sober law abiding citizens...and one for drunks and those that wanna drive with no speed limits (like the audobaun) and let them take their chances drivin drunk ! If they survive..well I guess god does take care of fools! But then the courts would lose all kinds of revenues from tickets and D.U.I. court costs! Yeah ..Yeah..I know ..dumb Idea..but at least i am thinkin...and my idea is no more lame than the rest of you armchair problem solvers!

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cool 5 years, 10 months ago

YESah there were many times when i could have had a DUI in the past. As a student at KUin the 70's certainly. As a 'yuppie' in Denver in the 80's certainly. As a townie in a ski townin the 90's certainly.however, i have never had a DUI.one of my rules & suggestions --- park your car about 6 to 8 blocks from where you are drinking. then you have time walking back to it to 'discern' your condition and whether you should be driving or not.

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ohjayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the info, alerixon. I wasn't aware they had to continue to blow into the device as the vehicle is moving.Topside - "My take is I can't think of but 2 Friends or relatives (don't drink) who could absolutely NOT have gotten a DUI at some point. Everyone I have ever known has been out with a group that could have gotten busted. So making it that harsh seems extreme to me. Yes it was stupid, but the current punishment is plenty for the vast majority of first time offenders."It only takes one time for a drunk driver to kill someone. The initial penalty needs to be harsh in order to keep the behavior from happening in the first place, not to keep the behavior from happening again.

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sunflower_sue 5 years, 10 months ago

I say it's worth a shot. We all know that most people who have a suspended license drive anyway. (They claim that they have to get to work somehow. The bus doesn't go where they're going. They have nobody that can drive them. They couldn't walk...it's too far, blah blah...) They have a million excuses, er, I mean, plausible explanations. At least this device might allow them to get to work and the grocery store without breaking the law. Plus, it might be embarrassing for them. That's an added bonus right there.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

consumer1 at 9;01 has it. I know people who have driven after having their license revoked, or are on a work only permit.any town if full of them.Didn't one of the KC tv stations track and film people who just lost their license at some courthouse, who walked out, go into their cars and drove?Ran up to them with the camera to try to confront them?

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logicsound04 5 years, 10 months ago

consumer1,I think getting around the "I can't afford this" argument would be pretty easy. Isn't there a punitive fine for drunk driving? Couldn't the fine simply be reduced by the cost of the unit for anyone who claimed inability to pay?Or even bump up the total amount of the fine so that it includes the cost of acquiring and installing the unit. I don't think lawbreakers are allowed to get fines waived due to inability to pay.That being said--this is an expensive solution that seems to have many available options to get around the restriction...

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 10 months ago

Lets just go with prohibition one more time, and do it right. You know, like the war on drugs.What? You got a problem with that?

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Bruce Rist 5 years, 10 months ago

Driving is a privilege not a right

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consumer1 5 years, 10 months ago

As far as people not changing cars to avoid detection because of "fear of additional charges" that is not true, I see it all the time, all the time. If a person is an habitual violator/drunk driver, they are going to drive regardless of the other or additional potential charges. They are driving illegally when they are drunk, and that doesn't stop them, the fear of addition charge won't stop them either.

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consumer1 5 years, 10 months ago

Here is where this can go completely wrong. All it takes is one useless lawyer to say, your honor my client cannot afford this device. The judge will then be required to either forgo the penalty, but more likely force the state to start supplying these devices to "those who cannot afford them". That means about Three (3) out of every four (4) people arrested for a DUI will claim inability to pay. So, before you start thinking about the "ideal" of stopping drunk drivers with this device, consider this, if you force the DUI offender to have one, you will be paying for it, and the resourceful drunk driver will simply drive another car and still take your life, my life, or one of our childrens lives into their drunk hands. We need to quit enabling people and hold them accountable for their actions. Oh, lets start with Drunk Congress Members !!

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fu7il3 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes. Put them in. Just because they got caught once, it is very unlikely that is the only time they have ever driven drunk. Drunk drivers show they can't handle the responsibility of driving because they show no responsibility for their lives, or the lives of others.

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alerixon1 5 years, 10 months ago

ohjayhawk: The interlock device requires you to blow at several intervals, preventing you from having someone else blow just to start your car if you are intoxicated. If you blow over the limit while driving it does not shut the car down, as this would be a safety hazard, but rather sets all the lights and the horn blaring, alerting any cops in the area to a drunk driver. 50YearResident: The installation cost is paid by the DUI offender. It is less than $200. And they can not simply change vehicles, because if they are caught driving a car without the device they face severe penalties. Not to mention not every has a spare vehicle around they can simply trade out. I have a friend that had to use one of these for a year after his second offense. It prevented him from driving home drunk more times than can be counted. They work.

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grimpeur 5 years, 10 months ago

"I doubt that Parents will pay to install a unit on their own car when other options are available."Simple: they should think about that before handing their kids the keys or co-signing a car loan. I think Sigmund has it pretty close, but I'd add impoundment of vehicle and jail time, because license suspensions don't stop drunks from driving.

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Topside 5 years, 10 months ago

I would say mandatory installation on a second DUI offense only. It would cut down on costs and only target repeat offenders. I too, have known several people who have gotten a DUI and it was terrible, but they did what was required and have never repeated. I think SIgmund is a bit harsh but hey that's his opionion. My take is I can't think of but 2 Friends or relatives (don't drink) who could absolutely NOT have gotten a DUI at some point. Everyone I have ever known has been out with a group that could have gotten busted. So making it that harsh seems extreme to me. Yes it was stupid, but the current punishment is plenty for the vast majority of first time offenders. Sigmund- I think the greater offense is the very large number of people who are driving around without insurance or licenses. I think those people should be locked up for 48 hrs and tought to play by the rules.

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50YearResident 5 years, 10 months ago

No! It will not be effective as the offenders will simply change vehicles. Who is going to pay for the unit and the installation costs which will run into hundreds of dollars? I doubt that Parents will pay to install a unit on their own car when other options are available.

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Sigmund 5 years, 10 months ago

No. Anyone caught drinking and driving should lose their license for two years. Second DUI and lose your license to drive for life.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes - and if they blow over the limit, the airbag should explode and punch them in the face."I remember asking last time what's to keep someone else from blowing into the breathalyzer in order for the car to start?"Probably nothing (unless you had to blow into it at periodic intervals to keep the car running). But at least that would take the cooperation of a second person - one who isn't drunk - to allow the person to drive. And I would think a good attorney would have a field day with lawsuits against the person who helped the drunk driver get his car started before killing someone.

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geekin_topekan 5 years, 10 months ago

Have charges been filed in the latest fatal hit and run?Why not enforce the laws we have before we make new ones.Killing a man and getting off scott free or reasonably equivelant is an indication that this is another revenue issue rather than one of safety.In other words,it is cheaper to get drunk and kill a man than it is to install one of these gadgets in your car.A bigger deterrent would be harsh charges of attempted murder if you drive drunk.Lose your license for One year the first time.For life the second time.If you are caught driving drunk again,that would make Two counts of attemted murder.If you are caught driving on suspension make it a mandantory year.Staying within the confines of the law is not that difficult and too much emphasis is put on crimes commited by the poor and mentally ill.This is an area where rich,white and priviledge is no barrier and that is why the laws around it continue to be pussyfooted to the point of redicule.

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ohjayhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Another repeat question. I remember asking last time what's to keep someone else from blowing into the breathalyzer in order for the car to start? It seems to be a pretty easy thing to get around, especially for the cost it would probably involve.

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Multidisciplinary 5 years, 10 months ago

You bet.Make them available to parents to put in their teen's cars too. Prevention is a good thing.

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