Don’t Let a DUI Ruin Your Holidays – Drive Sober Ignition Interlocks, a DUI Penalty, are Costly

This is one sample of news releases customized by county throughout the state.

WALLA WALLA-ASOTIN-GARFIELD COUNTIES, WA — Lynn Ross spent more than $1,200 paying for the ignition interlock that he had to have installed on his Dodge truck as a result of a DUI conviction.

The device is about the size of a cell phone with a tube for breath samples. Like many in Walla Walla, Asotin and Garfield Counties, Mr. Ross, a Spokane Valley resident, had to blow into it every time he started his truck every day for 14 months. The truck would only start if there was no alcohol in his system.

Despite the cost and the hassle—he had to switch to alcohol-free mouthwash and wait for a few minutes in the morning for the machine to warm up—Mr. Ross, a union carpenter, is thankful for the ignition interlock program. “It’s a good program,” he said recently, “It kept me from drinking and helped me get my license back.” Keeping the ability to legally drive, even during his suspension period, meant being able to keep his job since his work requires him to travel throughout the northwest region. “I wouldn’t have a job if I couldn’t drive.”

“It was a very positive experience for me,” he said, “but I was done drinking.” For someone who was still drinking, Mr. Ross thought the ignition interlock might be a more negative experience.

Ever since January 2012, ignition interlock drivers have to have a record of clean blows for the last four months of the restriction in order to get the device removed and be eligible for their regular driver’s license. “This ensures that drivers demonstrate the ability to separate their drinking from their driving,” explains Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Darrin Grondel.

As the Washington Traffic Safety Commission announces the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday campaign, Director Grondel urges drivers to plan ahead. “Don’t let a DUI ruin your holidays. Before you leave home for a holiday party, think about how everyone can get home safely. Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, stay the night.”

As part of the campaign, extra officers will be canvassing roadways between November 21 and January 1, 2013 throughout Walla Walla, Asotin and Garfield Counties searching for impaired drivers.

The Asotin, Clarkston, College Place, and Walla Walla Police Departments, the Walla Walla and Garfield County Sheriff’s Offices and the Washington State Patrol will participate in Washington State’s first-ever Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

The Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force organizes and supports this enforcement effort.