New Ohio O.V.I law encourages more ignition interlocks - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

New Ohio O.V.I law encourages more ignition interlocks

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There's a new drunk driving law in Ohio, encouraging judges to order more ignition interlock devices.

The equipment isn't new but, under Annie's Law first-time offenders can now ask to forgo jail time, cut their license suspension in half and be given unlimited driving privileges.

Ignition interlocks are designed to prevent a car from starting, unless a passing breathalyzer test is given. Creating a physical barrier with the goal of stopping a first-time drunk driver from becoming a repeat offender.

"It's like a probation officer sitting in your seat. Every time you jump in your car you have to blow into the device in order for it to start. So your whole world changes," said Rick Zilch with Smart Start of Ohio, one of nine certified companies specializing in ignition interlock's for the state.

Zilch explains that once the breathalyzer is passed and the car starts, another test will be required less than ten minutes down the road.
This is to ensure that the one who blew the initial test is indeed the driver.

"A lot of my second and third time offenders that come through the program are getting their interlock for a year to two to three (years,) so they come through and they look at us and say, if I would have had this my first one, I would have never had a second OVI," said Zilch.

If you happen to get one of the devices, there are some warnings on how to use them in a way that won't backfire. For instance, OVI Attorney Joe Hada says mouth wash, an energy drink, even a slice of bread could trigger a false positive.

Hada demonstrated for 21 News by using a similar device.

Immediately after eating a slice of bread, Hada blew a .027. Even a single squirt of hand sanitizer, immediately followed by a test, blew a .043.

Both results are below the legal limit to drive of .08 -- but, still considered a violation (above .025) since many people under probation are ordered to avoid drugs and alcohol.

Therefore, Hada says the results could mean trouble.

"You're facing jail time and you're facing an extension of your license suspension," said Hada. "I would be very hesitant in putting yourself in that position. Unless you are completely unable to drive for what you need to drive for, a lot of times in our cases we can get people driving privileges for what they need to drive for on a first-time offense, without having this type of machine installed in their car."

Zilch agrees that many surprising substances can trigger a positive reading. As part of his job, he often helps courts decipher between a true violation and one that may have been contaminated by something else.

"To get the false positive you psychically have to have that at a high rate in your mouth," said Zilch. "It can happen but, it's very rare." 

Zlich says users are given fair warning of what substances could trigger a false positive reading. He also encourages users to  "swish" with water before each test.

It's still up to the discretion of the judge what privileges they grant to an OVI offender. 

The cost of the devices falls on the offender. Prices vary but, can run between $75-85 per month, plus installation.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving stands in support of more ignition interlocks saying a simple license suspension isn't enough to keep drunk drivers from hitting the road. 

In an e-mail to 21 News, MADD says "the technology provides a physical barrier that stops a drunk driver from starting a car. No other drunk driving countermeasure can separate drinking from driving the way ignition interlock can."

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