Does your state use ignition interlock devices? These modern devices seem to be on the rise as a collateral penalty in many driving under the influence cases. How they work is simple. They are installed on a vehicle and the vehicle cannot be started unless an operator breathes into the machine and no alcohol is detected. While these devices are quite new, they have been around long enough for some states to adopt laws against drivers who tamper with them or have others breathe into them to circumvent their purpose.
In Kansas, KSA 8-1017 provides penalties for individuals who tamper with the device to circumvent its operation, who have others blow into the device to start the ignition, who blow into another person’s device so they can start the ignition on their vehicle, or who drive any vehicle without such a device when they are ordered to have one.
For prosecutors, proving these cases can be tough depending on which offense alternative you go with. Some cases have easy evidence, such as stopping someone who is supposed to have such a device and there is not one in the car. In other cases, however, an officer or other witness is not there to see the tampering happen or see if any non-authorized person is using the device instead of the correct driver. I would guess the only way to prove those cases would rely on a confession or personal observation by a person willing to testify at a trial.
The policy behind such a law, I believe, comes from a legislature’s desire to have an alternate method to supervise individuals who have been convicted of driving under the influence cases. These machines do the supervision for you, without the need or expenses for human supervision. Has it been established that these devices always function properly, however?
The above question might be evidence for the defense. How do we know these machines are capable of detecting the correct alcohol against other substances that could possibly be read by the machine as unauthorized alcohol? What about emergency situations where a vehicle must be driven even though a person, not intending to drive, has had some alcohol? Most prosecutions for offenses similar to the statute here in Kansas deal with drivers who simply do not have the machine installed. One wonders, however, how difficult it would be to prove the other alternatives when the evidence seems to be more limited?
See if your state has a similar offense for tampering with such a device. Until next time, drive safely!