Say ‘sober’: Ignition interlock camera possible for first Illinois DUI

A new proposal by the Illinois Secretary of State's Office could mean a change for DUI offenders. Since 2009, first-time DUI offenders in the state have needed to pass an in-car breathalyzer test each time they drive their vehicle. The new recommendation would also require a camera that would snap a picture of the person providing the breath sample.

The breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) requires a driver to blow into the device before the car will start. If the device registers a blood alcohol content over .025 percent, the car will not start. After a driver starts the car, he or she must periodically retest while driving the vehicle. The cost to install the ignition interlock device is approximately $150 with a continuing cost of about $100 per month for maintenance.

Manipulation of the ignition interlock devices

The current devices have no way to track exactly who is blowing into the BAIID. For instance, some argue that a sober passenger or a child might assist the driver to start the vehicle by blowing into the ignition interlock mouthpiece. How often this occurs is unclear and no evidence supports the argument that those with ignition interlock devices routinely manipulate the device.

Under the recommended change, Illinois law would require the addition of a camera that would take a picture of the person as they blow into the BAIID. This way there would be no way to trick the system.

The pictures would then be stored in a database. The photo evidence could come into play, if a driver claimed that someone else who borrowed the vehicle failed the test. The photo log would verify who actually took the test.

The Secretary of State's office made its request to change the law to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. After review, the proposal will move to the Illinois General Assembly. If passed, Illinois would be the sixth state to require cameras.

Is a camera necessary?

Ignition interlock systems have proven successful. DUI arrests are down 16 percent according to the most recent figure released by the Secretary of State's office.

Whether the additional camera requirement will make the ignition interlock program more successful is open for debate, but it will likely increase the cost of the program.

Even a first-time DUI arrest can result in serious penalties. A conviction may include jail time, license suspension, fines and community service. Increases in insurance premiums are another consequence. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact an experienced DUI attorney, who may be able to assist in reducing the charges or limiting the severity of the sentence.