Hawaii Ignition Interlock Law Goes Into Effect January 1

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BY TAMMY MORI – The state Department of Transportation (DOT) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reminded the public that the ignition interlock law will go into effect beginning 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2011 at a news conference today.

Anyone arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) will be required to install an in-car breathalyzer in their vehicle.  This is in compliance with Act 166 signed into law in June 2010.  The ignition interlock is aimed at reducing the number of people who drink and drive, ultimately, decreasing the number of alcohol related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.


An ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol analyzer connected to the car’s ignition.  Those who are arrested for OVUII will be required to blow into the device in order for the vehicle to start.  If alcohol is detected at or above a BAC of .02, the vehicle will not start.

“Hawaii has historically been ranked worst in the nation in terms of the percent of total fatal traffic crashes which are alcohol- related,” said MADD Hawaii Founder, Carol McNamee.  “We believe some people drink and drive because they can.  The in-car breathalyzer is landmark legislation for our state,” she added.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded from a number of national studies, that attaching an interlock to a car for a year after its operator is arrested for OVUII reduces recidivism by an estimated 50-90% and alcohol-related fatalities by 7%.

“This is about saving lives.  Drinking and driving is a crime that has touched each and every one of us in some way and has had devastating impacts on our community and families,” said Edwin Sniffen, DOT Highways Administrator.  “Because of this, it will take a community-wide effort to stop drunk drivers from getting onto our roadways and the ignition interlock is an example of agencies and leaders coming together to make a difference.”

A1 Smart Start, Inc. is the ignition interlock vendor selected for Hawaii.  Smart Start has been in business since January 1993 and has installed more than 200,000 devices nationwide.  They currently provide service to 43,000 interlock customers every month at more than 625 points of service in 39 states and recently began operating internationally in Sweden, Denmark and Australia.  Smart Start offers fully integrated services – manufacturing, installation, service, and comprehensive monitoring and reporting.

Today’s press conference was held at Progressive Auto Sounds in Aiea, which is one of the twelve ignition interlock service stations located statewide (Oahu – five; Hawaii – three; Maui – one; Kauai – one; Molokai – one; Lanai – one).   You can visit www.smartstartinc.com to schedule an appointment or call their customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance.

“Smart Start is proud to be part of Hawaii’s life saving initiative to make roadways safer for everyone.  We are an industry leader in ignition interlock technology and have prevented nearly 6 million vehicle starts by alcohol impaired drivers.   At the same time, 395 million safe starts have been allowed.  We are dedicated to separating drinking from driving and hope to make an immediate impact on this pervasive issue.  This will, in turn, impact our ultimate goal of saving lives,” stated Abram Garcia, Smart Start Inc., Director of Operations.

Offenders must pay for the installation and the monthly maintenance of the interlock device.  The ignition interlock device will cost offenders $84 to install in their vehicle and $89 per month to operate.

“We believe this will provide an added deterrent and get people to think twice before drinking and getting behind the wheel, “says Edwin Sniffen.  “It’s a win-win situation for all.  Instead of OVUII offenders losing their driving privileges all together, the ignition interlock will give them the second chance to continue driving- as long as they are driving safely.  They can continue going to work, picking up their kids from school and being productive members of society.  And for taxpayers, it doesn’t cost them a thing,” Sniffen adds.

You can visit hawaii.gov/dot/ignitioninterlock for more information on the ignition interlock.

Submitted by Tammy Mori, spokesperson for the state DOT