JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kekai Seabury, whose father was killed in 2003 by a drunken driver, cried yesterday while receiving a signed copy of the Ignition Lock Bill from Gov. Linda Lingle during a news conference at the state Capitol.
DUI ignition locks gain gov’s approval
Law requires ignition locks for repeat DUI offenders
STORY SUMMARY »
| READ THE FULL STORY
Repeat drunken driving offenders and those found guilty of severe drunken driving will have to prove they are sober before starting their cars, under a bill signed by Gov. Linda Lingle.
The law would require such offenders to have ignition interlock systems installed on their vehicles.
A task force will study the legal issues and logistics involved to have the program running by 2010.
"We'll have greater assurance that those DUI offenders are not driving their cars after they've had a single drink," state Transportation Director Brennon Morioka said yesterday at a bill-signing ceremony in Lingle's office.
Hawaii is the 46th state to adopt an ignition interlock program, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
An ignition interlock system, a device that requires drivers to blow a breath sample
before the vehicle will start, was on display yesterday at the state Capitol.
FULL STORY »
Kekai Seabury still struggles with the loss of his father, who was killed five years ago when his truck collided with a vehicle driven by a man who later admitted having a few drinks before getting behind the wheel.
Two new laws will require repeat and exceedingly drunk drivers to buy new devices for their car and harsher punishments for people that leave a minor unattended in a car.
He was overcome with emotion yesterday as he thanked lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle for taking a step aimed at preventing similar tragedies in the future.
Lingle signed into a law a proposal that would require repeat drunken driving offenders and those found guilty of severe drunken driving to prove they are sober before starting their cars.
"You're not only helping us, but you're helping yourselves as well," a tearful Seabury said yesterday. "It's not only protecting you; it's protecting your family - your mothers and fathers out there.
"Anything that can help just a little is helping a lot for victims like us."
The law would require repeat and severe drunken driving offenders to have ignition interlock systems installed on their vehicles. Such systems require drivers to blow a breath sample to measure their blood-alcohol concentration before the vehicle will start.
A task force is being set up to study the legal issues and logistics involved to have the program running by 2010.
Under the bill, first-time driving-under-the-influence violators would have the option of either the ignition interlock system or surrendering their license to drive for up to 90 days. Authorities say the measure allows those convicted of DUI to drive but ensures that they are sober when behind the wheel.
Drunk drivers and domestic abusers are required to spend 48 hours in jail, many given a discount on their time served, and the governor wants the policy to be improved.
Hawaii becomes the 46th state to adopt an ignition interlock program, although some states make it an optional sentence or require it only for habitual violators, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka said the 69 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Hawaii last year made up just more than half the number of traffic deaths.
"We can do all the engineering and enforcement we want to make our roads safer, but if people continue to make poor decisions - choose to speed, choose to drive recklessly and, worst of all, drive while drunk - these senseless deaths will continue," Morioka said at a bill-signing ceremony in Lingle's office. "Ignition interlock is a huge step in the right direction to help make our roads much safer."
The cost of the device would be paid by the offender, with a fund set up to help defray the cost for poor defendants. The devices cost about $75 to install and $75 a month to operate, according to MADD.
Seabury said any cost for the program is worth it.
He lost his father, Ramus, in a 2003 car crash on Kalanianaole Highway. The then 22-year-old driver who caused the crash survived and told hospital staff he had had three beers before the collision.
"Losing a life is a lot more than money," he said. "We can put something in the car that will help save a life."
HOW IT WORKS
» An alcohol ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle's ignition system.
» When a driver wishes to start a vehicle, the driver must first blow into the device. The vehicle will not start unless the driver's alcohol concentration is below a preset blood-alcohol concentration.
» A data recorder logs the driver's blood-alcohol level for each attempt to start the vehicle.
» Interlocks may be calibrated to have "rolling retests," which requires a driver to provide breath tests at regular intervals, preventing drivers from asking a sober friend to start the car, drink while driving or leaving the car idling in a bar parking lot.
» Devices also are outfitted with cameras to identify the person providing the breath sample.
Source: Mothers Against Drunk Driving