An indirect beneficiary of the proposed DUI laws in Washington State are the manufacturers of the ignition interlock devices.
Right now, about 20,000 residents are required to install the alcohol-sensing devices in their cars. Currently, the legislature is considering a new law requiring people with a prior DUI offense to get one installed immediately following a new arrest. Should this proposal be enacted into law, 4,500 more drivers will be required to install the device each year, providing a huge economic boon for these companies.
But with word that the state's five ignition interlock manufacturers are participating in meetings and helping draft the laws that benefit them, some are asking if the manufacturers have too much influence shaping self-serving laws, reports The Seattle Times in an article on the front page of their newspaper this morning.
Company officials deny that anything untoward is going on. They say that they are as focused on increasing public safety as they are earning a profit.
However, critics point out that the proposed new law, like the other recent state DUI laws, have come out of working groups and coalitions that featured both lawmakers and executives at companies like AutoSafe, Luce's Smart Start, Stanton's LifeSafer, Guardian Interlock Systems, and Interlock Northwest Inc. In addition, these companies have contributed to the campaigns of politicians supporting the laws that benefit them.
Some ignition interlock manufacturers have also come under fire for producing devices that have too many false positives. It has been acknowledged that false positives may occur if the driver has eaten certain foods or even used mouth wash before the test. These false results are troubling as they could wrongly identify drunk drivers. But since the interlock manufacturers benefit from these inaccurate results (e.g.; drivers may need to keep the devices in their cars for a longer period of time), critics point out that they may have little incentive to make their devices more accurate.
As lawmakers continue to debate the merits of the new drunk driving law, it is important to keep some perspective on where these laws are coming from.
If you have any questions about DUI laws or a drunk driving case in the Seattle area, contact the DUI attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense. Call 425-284-2000 to schedule a consultation.