Iowa House approves ignition interlock bill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa House approves ignition interlock bill

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DES MOINES (KWWL) - A bill that would change Iowa law regarding drunk drivers has been approved by the House.

On Tuesday, House legislators voted 89-5 in favor of the bill that would give drunk driving offenders a chance to get back on the road more quickly if they install an ignition interlock device, which won’t let someone drive if they had been drinking by keeping the ignition from unlocking.

Current law immediately suspends the license of someone convicted of drunk driving-including first time offenders.

Chris Konzen has been installing ignition interlock devices for some three years at his business Remote Start & Stereo in Dubuque. He said he has heard from his customers the device works well.

"They come in Monday after a big weekend and they tell us you know this particular unit would not allow us to drive the vehicle. It kept us off the road when we couldn't make an honest decision." Konzen said Wednesday.

Lt. Scott Baxter with the Dubuque Police Department said he also thinks the device is helping add another layer of safety for drivers.

"It's often difficult to measure the lives you save, but I think these do have a positive impact in terms of again, adding another layer of safety for that person that decides to drive." Baxter said.

An ignition interlock device is connected to the ignition of a vehicle and in order for the DUI offender to start his or her car, he or she must breath into the device. Konzen said there is usually a present limit for the drivers, B.A.C. at usually .02%. If the test registers above that limit, the car will not start. The person will then need to blow in the device various times while they are driving.

Konzen said all ignition interlock systems are leased. He said the driver must come in monthly to get their vehicle checked as well as pay for the device. He said the device seems to be tampered with during that visit, he will alert the authorities.

"We try to make it as hard as possible [to tamper with]. all of our stuff is up under the dash, which is really inaccessible." Konzen said. "You have to almost tear the vehicle down to a point to get to the stuff and then you have to have some knowledge of how the vehicle would work."

Lt. Scott Baxter said is aware that some people will go out of their way to try to get around the device.

"It's designed to get them back on the road safely again, hopefully in a sober fashion. But by tampering with it obviously is counter productive and will result in more criminal charges and a longer drivers license suspension for themselves...It's simply not worth it." Baxter said.

Lt. Scott Baxter said that includes having a friend or family member blow into the interlock system for the DUI offender. He said that is in violation of their restricted license.

The measure now moves back to the Senate.

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