Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some Personal Observations regarding Ignition Interlock

My client had significant alcohol related driving issues from about 2002 through 2006.  More specifically, he had four encounters with the law regarding drunk driving.  Not surprisingly his license to drive was revoked and remained revoked for many years.  My client began to get his life under control and applied to have his license reinstated.  Because of this history, the Maryland motor vehicle administration required that he installed ignition interlock in his vehicle in order for his drivers license to be reinstated.

Unfortunately for him, while he was going through the reinstatement process he was stopped by police for speeding and charged with driving while revoked which is a 12 point offense and carries a maximum of one year in jail.  After he received this ticket he finally did obtain his drivers license.  He also had substantial proof that he had a successful small business and was also an excellent employee.

It is not particularly difficult for a prosecutor to prove that a driver was revoked for trial purposes.  Normally they call the police officer who made the stop and that officer will testify that the defendant was the driver, the driver was on a public highway, that they have the drivers Maryland record which shows that the driver was revoked.  They must also prove that the driver knew that he or she was revoked but that can be established through either an admission by the defendant who would tell the officer they knew they were revoked or through the driving record itself.  In my particular case the prosecutor was rather hard-nosed and offered my client a guilty plea to the main charge of driving while revoked with the aforementioned penalties and problems.  I will normally not recommend my client plead guilty to the main charge.  My thinking is why have an attorney if the attorney is not willing to negotiate or obtain a better resolution than the client on his or her own.  If I cannot negotiate a better resolution why not put up a fight?  Obviously I cannot guarantee a win for the client but at least the prosecutor will know that I have no problem going to trial for my clients and making them prove their cases.  It is my belief that prosecutors who know that a defense attorney will fight rather than fold will usually end up with better case results.  After some negotiation the prosecutor offered a guilty plea to driving while suspended, which in this case exposed my clients to 60 days in jail and three points on his driving record.

Having obtained that offer I tried to confirm the whereabouts of the police officer whom I knew was missing.  I checked with police liaison who confirmed that the officer was called and was on his way in.  I spoke with another officer who advised that this particular officer is reliable and normally will come to court.  My client and I discussed the pros and cons of taking the offer and ultimately he did accept the offer.

The judge was somewhat conservative and concentrated heavily on my client's history of drunk driving.  I kept pointing out to the court that was many years ago and things have changed and he has ignition interlock on his vehicle now.  The judge ultimately gave my client three days in jail and unsupervised probation.  Not a terrible sentence considering my client's history but a bit of a problem for both of us.

My client had driven his vehicle to the courthouse.  I told my client I could drive his vehicle to my office and leave it there for him to pick up later.  The only problem is his vehicle had ignition interlock.  I have never used ignition interlock and now have a bit of an education.

Don't try to start the car before using ignition interlock.  The device was smart enough to tell me to turn off the ignition.  Thereafter, after the device had warmed up, it told me to blow.  I blew hard for about 12 seconds and it would abort.  I tried this several times and the device would abort.  I tried blowing while humming that did not work.  Fortunately the device had a telephone number on it which I called but the telephone number was wrong.  I had the telephone number for one of the ignition interlock suppliers on my smart phone and called them and they told me that not only must I blow but eventually I must inhale.  It seems that some people will use a balloon to try to trick the ignition interlock into believing that they are providing the breath sample.  I have no idea how that would work.  If I have been drinking and blow into a balloon, I would think that my alcoholic breath would be in that balloon.  After receiving advice from the technician I again tried blowing and again was failing.  Finally, I noticed that there was a hole on the other side of the device.  I plugged that hole with my finger and began to blow and finally was met with success.  The device told me to inhale and I did and I was able to start the vehicle.

After driving for about 4 min. the device started beeping and insisted that I begin blowing into it again.  Again I had a bit of a problem getting it to accept my breath sample but I was finally successful and was able to get the vehicle to my office.

If you get the ignition interlock, make sure you understand the instructions.  Also make sure that your vehicle is in decent shape.  If you have a bad battery for example, it can cause problems with the ignition interlock.  Before accepting ignition interlock, call me to discuss your case.  You may have defenses that you do not know about.

1 comment:

amudha manoharan said...




Thank you so much... i didnt have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this.. thks a lot




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