Can state track thousands of interlocks?
The American Beverage Institute opposes mandatory ignition interlocks for first-time drunk driving convictions. So Sarah Kapenstein of the institute couldn't wait to share an item from the group's blog with me and my readers.
Essentially, what the institute is doing is trying to use the tragic case of Thomas Meighan, the man accused of killing Johns Hopkins student Miriam Frankl (right) in a hit-and-run, to advance its position. Meighan, a serial drunk driver, is charged with operating a motor vehicle in defiance of an order to use an interlock device.
At first, I thought this was a classic case of lobbyist logic -- using one high-profile failure as an excuse to scrap an otherwise good idea. But on reflection, the institute raises a good question -- even if it does so in a crass way. Proponents of using the interlocks for first-time offenders need to make the case that requiring the the Motor Vehicle Administration to monitor large numbers of drivers ordered to use ignition interlocks devices wouldn't degrade current efforts to keep tabs on the hard-core offenders.
My impression, however, is that there's not much the MVA can do to assure compliance by folks who are determined to game the system. So there might not be any harm to existing compliance efforts from adding the new interlock customers. A high percentage of people will always comply because it's the law and there are punishments for being caught breaking it.
If Meighan is found to have bypassed the ignition interlock requirement, the real lesson is that there are some cases in which the only effective measure is vehicle confiscation. In cases where a driver disables an interlock device, there should be automatic impoundment upon arrest and auction upon conviction. Does the poor offender need to drive to work to feed the babies? Tough. Take a bus. Walk. Put the babies up for adoption. He or she shoulda thought of that before defying a court order.