Bill could make drunk driving in Idaho much more difficult

Bill requires ignition interlock after first DUI
Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 12:57:43-04

It could soon be much harder for drunk drivers to get behind the wheel in Idaho.

A bill on the governor's desk would make all first time drunk drivers install an interlock device in their car to drive again.

At Naylor's Auto Repair in Garden City, they already install interlock devices for repeat offenders.

"Business has been good, really busy." says owner Steve Bowshier.

But if the Governor signs House Bill 551 Bowshier says look out.

"I'm gonna have to get a bigger shop for all the ones I'll be installing."

That's because in 2016 alone, AAA Idaho says more than five thousand Idahoans were convicted of drunk driving for the first time.

"We were one of two states that hadn't done anything to address drunk driving on the first offense." says Matthew Conde, Public and Government Affairs Director for AAA Idaho.

In fact, it's currently just a misdemeanor that results in suspension. But the state found that's a problem.

"50 to 75 percent of people with suspended licenses keep driving." says Conde.

House Bill 551, which had almost unanimous support, requires first time offenders install an interlock. That means the car won't start unless you blow clean air into it.

The CDC says the devices reduce repeat offenses by 67 percent.

And the technology is impressive.

In case you're wondering if there's any way to skirt the rules, it's pretty tough.  First you have to hum when blow into the device, so you can't use compressed air.  Secondly while driving, it will ask you randomly to pull over and take another test, and then, on some devices, they have a camera to take your picture while taking the test.

Some say it's better than not being able to drive at all.

"Life keeps going for them, but life keeps going for innocent people around them." says Conde.
And Bowsheir says those who do their time, act like changed people, "One thing people do say when they get them removed is they always say never again, I'll never do that again."

Drivers must pay a monthly fee for the devices which stay on for a year, but a fund is already set up to help those who can't pay, manage the cost.

If signed, the bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.