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Ohio's controversial ignition interlock law

Your recent arrest for operating a vehicle under the influence has likely changed your plans for the immediate future. Until the court decides the outcome of your case, you probably think of little else. After all, the consequences for impaired driving convictions include fines, jail time and license suspension that increase in severity with each subsequent offense.

Recently, Ohio legislators passed a law allowing those convicted of OVI offenses to request ignition interlock systems in lieu of jail and license suspension. Mothers Against Drunk Driving sings the praises of ignition interlock, and some compare it to having a parole officer in the car with you. However, experts contend that the systems may have flaws that could mean serious trouble for those who use them.

Don't eat that sandwich!

The ignition interlock system prevents you from starting your car until you blow into a mouthpiece on the device. If you haven't been drinking, the car should start as normal, and you may drive. After a few miles, the device will require a second test to confirm that you are still driving sober.

However, if the device registers alcohol on your breath higher than .25, your car will not start, and authorities will receive a report that you have violated the terms of your deal. You may be shocked to learn that ignition interlock systems may register a violation for reasons other than you drinking alcohol, for example:

  • You have recently used hand sanitizer with alcohol content.
  • You have used mouthwash.
  • You consumed an energy drink.
  • You have eaten a slice of bread.

One demonstration showed that consuming a slice of bread resulted in a .27 reading on an ignition interlock device.

On the surface, opting for an ignition interlock system may seem preferable to license suspension and jail time. However, knowing that the innocent use of everyday products may trigger a false report that could land you in serious trouble, the better option may be to fight the charges in an effort to avoid conviction altogether.

Alternatives to OVI penalties

Having an attorney with experience both prosecuting and defending OVI charges can be a considerable advantage. Such an attorney will understand the kind of evidence that may convince the court of your guilt, and then bring to light the flaws in that evidence.

The results of your sobriety test or blood alcohol concentration test are not conclusive. Just as a simple thing can yield a false positive on someone's ignition interlock, so the same result is possible for your BAC. Relying on a strong legal advocate to defend your rights against these results may benefit you greatly.

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