Proposed home breathalyzers for DWI

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Anti-DWI advocates are pushing for a proposal that would require drunk drivers, who claim they don't own a car, to take breathalyzer tests at home.

By law, drivers caught drunk behind the wheel need to install an ignition interlock in their cars that will stop the engine from starting if any trace of alcohol is detected on a drivers' breath.

"We're making progress," said Richard Roth, director of Impact DWI. "But the problem is a lot of offenders are finding out how to avoid the ignition interlock."

Roth said offenders will often tell a judge the don't own a car or are no longer driving. Advocates said those people are often right back in front of a judge following another drunk driving arrest.

Roth is lobbying lawmakers this upcoming session to pass a new bill to put the clamps down on drunk drivers who avoid getting an ignition interlock. The proposal would require them to blow into a breathalyzer at home twice a day, in the morning and at night, as part of probation.

Like the interlock, the drunk driver would pay for the breathalyzer and would be required to use it for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense and so on. A probation officer would check the results every so often.

"It doesn't prevent driving in the same way, but it enforces the judicial mandate to not drink during probation," said Roth.

Roth said the breathalyzer idea may be more of an incentive for drivers to not shy away from an interlock.

But Linda Atkinson with the DWI Resource Center said the breathalyzer wouldn't do anything to physically stop someone from driving drunk.

"I don't see these breathalyzers coming in as really reducing recidivism, therefore reducing death and injury, which I think we should all be focused on," said Atkinson.

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