Device Behind New Drunk Driving Law Aims To Save Lives

By: Amaka Ubaka Email
By: Amaka Ubaka Email

Drunk driving has been an increasing problem on Nebraska roads. In 2010, 53 people in Nebraska died in alcohol related crashes and 790 were injured.

Now a series of laws are aimed at stopping drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.

Governor Dave Heineman spoke out Wednesday about tougher drunk driving laws that go into effect January 1st.

Under part of the new law, first and second time offenders whose driver's licenses have never been revoked will be allowed to drive with a special permit to certain locations.

The tool behind the law is the ignition interlock device, a machine that tests your blood alcohol level by blowing into a sensor. Any reading above 0.03 would prevent a driver from starting their car. While an effective tool, it's not without issues.

Experts say you should wait 15 minutes after eating before using an ignition interlock device system because even yeast in a donut could trip the device. As could mouthwash, cough medicine, or anything else with alcohol in it.

Kathryn Goethe, an emergency room nurse says she’s concerned about who is using it.

“I would worry about people having their kids blow into them or having other people blow into them to trip the system so they could drive their car drunk."

Channel 6 asked Rick Quistad at Jones Automotive about the device. They’ve been installing the device for over 20 years.

Quistad says someone else could blow into it, but the driver can be tested many times while driving, depending on how far they travel.

“At that point, its either going to show a pass for fail,” says Quistad.

“Now it won't shut the car off, which would be a bad idea, but it will show up as a failure.”

That failure would then show up on a monthly data report sent to police.

First time offenders must have the ignition interlock device in their car for six months, while second time offenders must have it for a year.

The offender pays for the device, which runs about fifty dollars to install, and fifty dollars to rent each month.

Despite the kinks, supporters say the new law will save the state money and more importantly keep people safe, giving drivers’ peace of mind.

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