A draft bill that would require alcohol Ignition Interlock devices is getting quite a bit of publicity as a sound idea. However, Columbus DUI lawyer Brad Koffel, has successfully challenged the accuracy and reliability of these devices in Columbus courts. According to Koffel, "these small machines are not specific for alcohol, are too sensitive to outside temperature changes, are not compatible with new electronics in newer car models, are easily tricked, provide more false positives than true positive results, and that is before you get around to the lack of training for the folks who are installing them for the courts."
In 2005, Koffel was hired by a local businessman who was ordered to install one in his new Land Rover after a DU conviction. Over the next 10 months, Koffel's client dutifully blew into the machine before each attempt to start his SUV. Eventually, the company that installed the device sent a letter to Judge stating that Koffel's client "failed" two times suggesting that he drank alcohol before driving. The man vehemently denied ever drinking alcohol and driving. He was facing nearly 6 months in jail for violating his probation.
Koffel investigated on behalf of his client. What Koffel discovered resulted in the Judge ordering the immediate removal of the ignition interlock device from the vehicle. The Judge also questioned the science and legitimacy of these devices.
Specifically, Koffel reported to the Court that his client's printouts showed 35 "failures" not two as suggested by the company. Also, the president of the company admitted that many foods other than alcohol cause false positives. Koffel presented evidence to the prosecutor's office of a "failure" on a day and time when the client was actually at Koffel's office.
Koffel says, "We are learning that clients are simply leaving their vehicles on with the doors locked instead of turning off the vehicle and running the risk that it will take 15 - 90 minutes for the interlock to permit them to start the vehicle again. I had one client recently tell me that his interlock device was so unreliable that he leaves his car running while he is at work!"
It is urged by Koffel and many other lawyers with knowledge of these devices that the legislature fully investigate the claims made by the manufacturer's before innocent people are wrongly jailed on probation violations.