Washington State is the most recent state to consider new laws that will boost the power of ignition interlock devices to prevent deaths due to alcohol-related crashes. House Bill 1276, which has passed in the House and now moves to the Senate, mandates two changes that are designed to bring down the number of DUI deaths in the state:
- Ignition interlock users who have someone else blow into the device in order to circumvent the breath test will be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
- Devices will have to include GPS technology so that law enforcement agencies can track drivers whom they believe have tried to circumvent the interlock.
At the Monitech (an East Coast ignition interlock company's) website, at: http://www.monitechnc.com/cameras-and-gps/, it states:
Comments Off [sic] on The Future of Interlocks: Cameras and GPS
The ignition interlock industry is always looking to utilize the latest technologies to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of the interlock device. It's the goal of interlock providers to ensure that program participants are discouraged from attempting to drink and drive and are caught if they try to circumvent the program.
A couple additions to some interlock programs around the country have recently sparked controversy, but it appears that they may be the future of the industry. In-car cameras and GPS trackers allow for real-time reporting of violations as well as vehicle location upon violations. Some have argued these additions are intrusive and shouldn't be allowed, but this “intrusiveness” is merely a result of chronic drunk drivers who have found ways to “beat” their devices, from getting someone else to blow in the device for them to electronically tampering with the device.
As a way to combat a person's ability to trick their device, in-car cameras, which are suction-cupped to the windshield, will record program participants to ensure that they are the ones actually blowing into the device to start the vehicle and completing the random retests while the vehicle is in motion. While the participant blows into the device, the camera will take a picture, complete with a time stamp to verify the photo was taken as the breath sample was taken. Depending on the degree of a person's DUI conviction, they may be restricted from driving in certain areas or only permitted to drive to work. This can be monitored with a GPS tracker that comes as part of the person's interlock program.
One Washington State case this year challenging this new probably unconstitutional law was recently heard in March 2016 in Walla Walla, WA. Judge Wolfram of the Walla Walla County Superior Court granted an Order to Show Cause (the initial Writ of Prohibition) ordering DOL to "cease and desist" from enforcing the new requirement (RCW 43.43.395(3)(a)(ii)) to add GPS monitors to existing Ignition Interlock Devices and as a condition of Ignition Interlock Licenses.
DOL was ordered by Superior Court Judge Wolfram to show cause why the temporary, initial Writ of Prohibition should not become a peremptory (permanent) writ (preventing in Washington State the new GPS requirement on ignition interlock devices for police to be able to track those suspected of tampering with or evading the proper use of these awful devices). DOL was supposed to comply by March 14, 2016, but the case now seems to have been continued for further briefing and hearings.
The fundamental constitutional grounds for the Judge's Writ prohibiting the use of GPS on interlock devices that were alleged by defense challenge are:
(1) GPS is an illegal warrantless search;
(2) Applying GPS requirement for crimes committed before September 26, 2015 (effective date of Laws 2015 2nd sp.sess. Ch. 3, §11) is an ex post facto punishment;
(3) Since searches require a judicial finding of probable cause, the legislature's passage of a law mandating wholesale searches violates the separation of powers doctrine; and
(4) Since the petitioner has no geographical restrictions on his sentence, the GPS requirement is not a "crime-related prohibition."
In that case the defendant had his regular 2-month ignition interlock device maintenance coming up soon. So, when he was told (by the ignition interlock installation and maintenance company -- but not by the DOL) to install the newer model device equipped with GPS, his attorney brought this important constitutional challenge to the validity of this offensive, intrusive, 'police state' requirement. It is ridiculous for the government to track the locations of citizens who do not have a court order restricting their movements. I will be 'tracking' (LOL) the outcome of this case in future blogs. Stay tuned.