Use of DUI ignition-interlock devices increases

DUI device use on the rise
Published: Dec. 11, 2012 at 11:43 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2012 at 2:48 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A growing number of Hawaii drivers convicted of drunk driving are installing ignition interlock devices in their cars.

But those drivers are still a minority of the DUI offenders in the state.

According to the state Department of Transportation, over 1,300 drivers now have these ignition interlocks in their cars, up from about 1,000 a year ago.

The devices prevent drivers from starting their cars if they have been drinking.

According to the DOT, these devices prevented vehicles from starting more than 6,000 times this year, up 50 percent from 2011.

"We know that all those people are safe themselves and the people on the road they encounter are safe," said Carol McNamee, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii.

"We are preventing crashes from happening."

The devices are also giving a boost to the business that install them.

Mike Allwer, owner of The Discount Store in Kakaako, says his shop has installed over 500 of these systems since the law went into affect two years ago.

"We're seeing a lot of people coming in but a lot of people are paying attention that this is very serious," he said.

The service isn't cheap. It costs about $1,000 to install and monitor these devices for a year.

That's why many are turning down the offer and are opting to have their licenses revoked for a year.

Attorney Paul Cunney says many drivers are still on the roads -- even with a revoked license.

"For some people it's expensive and it's just another little surcharge on their life and so they probably don't want to cough up the money," said Cunney.

"They'll take their chance. They'll take the risk that they're not going to get caught."

That's one of many reasons the National Transportation Safety Board is pushing states to require those devices to be installed on all vehicles owned by first time DUI offenders.

The NTSB today issued a report saying that a national policy requiring these devices will prevent traffic deaths caused by drunk driving.

Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaii says it agrees and says it will make its own push for stricter DUI penalties -- such vehicle immobilization -- for the upcoming Legislature.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.