In my mind, there are two major problems with this approach. First, the same problems that plague the ignition interlock device plague the larger breath devices used in police stations. Breath machines operated in the police station at least are awarded some degree of accuracy because they are operated by certified individuals who have gone through at least a brief amount of training on how to use the machine. Even with trained operators, these machines make mistakes and issue incorrect readings. The ignition interlocks in vehicles, which are much smaller and operated by unsophisticated operators, do not have some magic programming formula that guarantees accurate results each time they are used. They rely on the same faulty programming that the larger machines rely on, and have much smaller computer chips that operate them, hindering their ability to run clearance checks and complicated analysis. Most devices simply measure for the presence of alcohol, not the quantity. Anyone who uses Nyquil, mouthwash, breath spray, or any other medication with alcohol in it would be unable to start their cars and go about their lives, inconveniencing many innocent people.
Second, reliance on these devices to control the drunk driving crowd does not solve the underlying problem that most drunk drivers have, a dependency on alcohol. At the end of the day, if someone wants to drive drunk, there is nothing stopping them. If we want to get serious in this state about drunk driving, the best thing we can do is help people with substance abuse problems through ongoing treatment. Drivers can spend thousands of dollars keeping a device in their cars. Once that device is gone, they may not be able to control themselves any longer since they have been spending the money on a device and not a recovery program.
At the end of the day, there may be some reasonable middle ground that could be reached with an intelligent approach to these devices. Politicians are too quick to recommend solutions that are not solutions at all, but simply quick fixes that get them through the current election cycle. We need to break that cycle in order to break the cycle of alcoholism that too many people in this state suffer from. Let us decide to make a real change and propose some policies that help people a person make a change that will keep them out of the system and on a permanent path of positive contribution to society.
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