Pennsylvania Ponders Parody-Proof Paternalistic Proposal

The Keystone state joins New York and New Mexico in considering legislation that would mandate ignition interlock devices in all vehicles sold in the state. The Pennsylvania proposal is actually worse:

Clymer's proposal would require that, by 2009, all new cars sold in Pennsylvania have a device installed to estimate the amount of alcohol on the breath of a driver. If the machine believes the driver's BAC is greater than .025 percent -- significantly less than the legal limit of .08 percent -- the car will not start. By 2010, all motorists would be forced to install the devices on existing cars before being able to sell them as used vehicles.

Several states have mandated ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunk driving, creating a booming business for manufacturers of the devices. Court-ordered interlocks generally cost up to $200 to install with $125 in monthly maintenance fees. Permanent installation of such devices would add more than $1000 to the cost of new vehicles. The Sens-O-Lock brand, for example, lists for $1595.

A .025 limit is essentially zero tolerance. For most people it would mean a single drink, and you won't be driving for a solid hour. Hell, in some cases, a slice of toast could prevent you from starting your car. It would basically restrict the use of alcohol to one's home, particularly in areas where there isn't much in the way of public transportation or access to taxicabs.

It probably doesn't have much chance of passing. Yet. The bill in New Mexico requiring all cars to install the devices inches closer to passing each year. The state, under the stewardship of alleged libertarianish Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson, already requires the devices for first-time offenders. Richardson has said he supports the law mandating the devices in all vehicles as well.

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  • Russ 2000||

    What about mouthwash? Or is this legislation designed to end the scourge of Listerine?

  • ||

    I would have thought Utah would have been the first to even think of something this absurd, but then again they seem to just jump to prohibitian. As a PA resident I hang my head in shame of such...typical government shenanigans. This will never pass but the concept of widespread use of such measures is just disappointing.

  • ||

    If we were really serious about protecting our children (tm) we would forget about the interlock, and just put a shotgun shell in the center of the steering wheel. If the driver blows an excessive blood alcohol level, BOOM! One less highway menace.

    The same system can be modified for use with gps and a national speed limit database: exceeding the speed limit (108% of the posted limit, say) will result in one less speeder. The State can then take possesion of the vehicle and auction it to pay fines.

  • ||

    If I were a legislator who really wanted this bill to pass, I'd propose that the sensitivity of the machines be set to .25, rather than .025. I'd say that "nobody's talking about stopping people from driving after eating toast, taking listerine, or even have a drink or two earlier in the evening". Then, after the machines are safely installed in all cars, I'd wait until there is some high-profile drunk driving accident, and say that we need to "do something" by making the machines more sensitive. The machines could be reset at an annual inspection. Within a few years, I'm sure I could get it down to .025. Gotta make state intrusion creeping, not sweeping, that's what I say!

  • ed||

    I'm thinking that any legislator who supports this bit of idiocy must be blowing at least 2.80.

  • ||

    Why stop there?

    Car radios should be illegal.
    Drivers should be separated from passengers via a soundproof plexiglass shield.
    Electric shocks should regularly pulse from the driver's seat, to keep them from falling asleep.
    Roll cages should be mandatory.
    Throttles should be regulated such that a car cannot exceed 55mph. To prevent this when rolling downhill, breaks should automatically be applied.

  • ||

    K attends a cookout with his wife. He has a drink. K's wife is bitten by a snake. K gets in his car to rush her to the hospital. Car doesn't start by government fiat, K's wife dies.

  • Dan T.||

    Relax, guys, there is no way any government passes a law that prevents a car from starting at that level of BAC.

  • ||

    Wow! Who says the best days of the northeast are far, far behind?

  • ||

    let's see if I get this straight... because of some politician who is drunk with power, I'm expected to BLOW (into) MY CAR in order for it to start?

  • ||

    You know, Dan T is rapidly approaching Juanita levels of gnomic irony.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Perhaps non-drinkers can make a few bucks in the tavern parking lots serving as Shabbes Goyim?

  • Dan T.||

    Don't drink and drive and you have nothing to worry about.

  • ||

    Dan T.,

    Screw you.

  • ||

    "Don't drink and drive and you have nothing to worry about."

    Are you advocating personal responsibility over gov't nannying, Dan?

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Sally Goodman (pharmacist's aid): "Thank goodness these devices won't stop prescription drug abusers."

    Walter Friedkin (welder): "Would they also thwart hot-wiring or will auto thieves be spared this indignity?"

    Albert Cole (podiatrist): "You have to lean over and blow? I'm getting one for my girlfriend tomorrow!"

  • ||

    Dan T,

    What about the presumption of innocence? Why do teetotalers have to go down on their steering wheels the same as alcoholics?

  • Dan T.||

    Uh, the first comment was mine ("Relax, guys..."). The second ("Nothing to worry about...") was a spoof.

    All I'm saying is that there is no point in getting worked up over some BS bill that is never going to become law.

  • ||

    Of course, it the devices aren't set to detect marijuana, only stoners will be driving around.

  • ||

    Mr. Clymer's e-mail-

    pclymer@pahousegop.com

    Send him a quick note to tell him he is a jerk. It's fun.

  • VM||

    DAR: good Onion Vox Pops

  • ||

    Don't give up hope just yet Dan.

    All we need is one drunken state legislator to plow his/her car into a cement barrier, and tearfully confess a drinking problem before the public, followed by "If only I'd had a Lewinsky Device installed in my car, I might never have endangered public safety."

    Then Bam. Mandatory.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Thanks, VM. American Voices is my favorite Onion feature.

  • Dan T.||

    Don't give up hope just yet Dan.

    All we need is one drunken state legislator to plow his/her car into a cement barrier, and tearfully confess a drinking problem before the public, followed by "If only I'd had a Lewinsky Device installed in my car, I might never have endangered public safety."

    Then Bam. Mandatory.


    I can see the devices at some point becoming required for cars, but not set at such a low BAC. Americans still love to drink.

  • ||

    If we can successfully attach the label "Lewinsky Device" to these things, I think we will have won the war.

  • ||

    "not to worry about a law that won't pass" !
    But its what we do here, and more important, what we like to do! anyway, here in DC we had a case a few months back where someone was arrested for intoxication (She had forgotten to turn on their headlights, which were suppose to be automatic, but apparently the parking lot attendent turned the automatic on feature off - thus cause for the stop). Anyway, the issue turned out not to be drinking if I recall correctly, but because the person had taken a prescription drug, and the drug of course warned of "sleepiness or not operating machinery" and the law was for "intoxication" defined as any impairment... well, there you go. The woman had to go through quite a lot because of her "intoxication" and what makes me so annoyed about it is this: how many judges drive around intoxicated under that definition?

  • ||

    All I'm saying is that there is no point in getting worked up over some BS bill that is never going to become law.



    Dan T.

    How can you be sure that it's never going to become law? Lawmakers vote for crap laws which they have never read all the time. Are they magically going to start behaving reasonably?

  • ||

    If its called a "lewinsky device" doesn't that mean I am the blow-ee and not the blow-er? if I could get one of those things I would trade in my Gremlin.

  • ||

    As I was ruminating about various methods of defeating (no apologies- that's just how my mind works) the Lewinsky Device (cheers, Mr Akston!), it occurred to me that this may be an entirely new front in the radar wars; first, the company sells a device to the Gest- er, police, and then they sell a countermeasure to the civilians. Then, a better, more clever tester, then a sneakier counter measure....

    I love the smell of government-supported profits in the morning. I'm calling my broker.

  • Dan T.||

    Dan T.

    How can you be sure that it's never going to become law? Lawmakers vote for crap laws which they have never read all the time. Are they magically going to start behaving reasonably?


    Of course I'm not sure but lawmakers are good at saving their own butts and I doubt they're willing to pass laws that will piss off almost all of their consitituents.

    Remember: most Americans drink and nobody is going to put up with a law that prevents your car from starting after a single beer.

  • Dan T.||

    here in DC we had a case a few months back where someone was arrested for intoxication (She had forgotten to turn on their headlights, which were suppose to be automatic, but apparently the parking lot attendent turned the automatic on feature off - thus cause for the stop). Anyway, the issue turned out not to be drinking if I recall correctly, but because the person had taken a prescription drug, and the drug of course warned of "sleepiness or not operating machinery" and the law was for "intoxication" defined as any impairment... well, there you go. The woman had to go through quite a lot because of her "intoxication" and what makes me so annoyed about it is this: how many judges drive around intoxicated under that definition?

    I don't know, but if a driver was so out of it that she didn't notice that her car's headlights weren't turned on (assuming it was night when the woman was pulled over) then it seems that the law served a legitimate purpose in that case at least.

  • Dan T.||

    If this device saves the life of even one child, then it's worth having them installed on all vehicles.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    If this device saves the life of even one child, then it's worth having them installed on all vehicles.

    Especially including tricycles.

  • ||

    "If this device saves the life of even one child, then it's worth having them installed on all vehicles."

    Beautiful. You go through life with a nagging suspicion that some people are oblivious to the cost side of the equation, then someone comes along and says so outright.

  • ||

    They should put these things on the locks to your home, so you don't go in and beat your wife.

  • ||

    If this type of thing passes, expect a booming black market in "dis-installation" services.

  • Dan T.||

    I know the Reasonoids hate children and abhor anything to make life safer for them, so I'm not surprised by those responses.

  • VM||

    *gg! that was really funny, DanT!

    :)

    (don't forget about the theocratarians here who really really really care about a bunch of metabolically-dependent cells (fetus) more than they do about the kid!)

  • ||

    Dan T.

    Have you driven in a city recently? There are so many damn street lights you really don't need your lights.

    Nick

  • ||

    You know, I could see a new kind of civil disobedience arising, where trained cadres of the indignant go around disconnecting breath-checkers, traffic-light cameras, crowd-control cameras, etc., etc., etc.

    Long live Indignancy!

  • ||

    Um... I am disapointed in you reasonoids... no one mentioned how damn easy it would be to spoof this system. Virtually anyone can rig a device to blow into a mouthpiece. These devices are about the most useless things ever.

    Part of the whole justification of installing them into the cars of drunk drivers, was that it would embarrass them to have such a machine installed - even the people for that realized how easy they were to circumvent.

  • ||

    Virtually anyone can rig a device to blow into a mouthpiece.

    Yeah, but those will be made illegal. And then no one will have them.

    You know, like radar detectors.

  • ed||

    And guns.

  • ||

    As I was ruminating about various methods of defeating...the Lewinsky Device


    Just a balloon and an air compressor.

  • ||

    As I was ruminating about various methods of defeating. . .the Lewinsky Device. . . .

    A dog.

  • ||

    Will these devices also prevent a woman from starting a car if her underwear is showing? Because it's dangerous to go out like that.

  • ||

    Of course I'm not sure but lawmakers are good at saving their own butts and I doubt they're willing to pass laws that will piss off almost all of their consitituents.

    Remember: most Americans drink ...


    Then that whole "Prohibition" thing was just a bad dream?

  • Ayn Randian||

    I didn't raise my right hand and swear to "defend and protect legislators who make us blow into our cars".

    Add to that the light bulb brou-ha-ha, and I wonder what I'm really defending sometimes.

  • ||

    Leaving aside the merits of the law (or lack thereof), I'd like to point out how easy it would be to get around this.
    1) Fill gas tank.
    2) Drive to bar. Leave ignition on.
    3) Destroy brain cells. Act like a moron. Call it fun and being social.
    4) Walk to still-running car. Drive home.

    Of course, you'd need two keys so you can leave it locked.

  • T||

    Damn, number 6, that's complicated. How about

    1) Blow up balloon.
    2) Get drunk.
    3) Use balloon to defeat idiotic device.
    4) Drive home.

    Wouldn't that be a lot easier than leaving the car running all night while you get hammered? Think, man! Gasoline's expensive, balloons are cheap. At the right happy hour, the price of a gallon of gas can get you several more drinks.

  • ed||

    Or just leave your child in the car all night. Make a game out of it.

  • Jennifer||

    Add to that the light bulb brou-ha-ha, and I wonder what I'm really defending sometimes.

    I mean this in all sincerity, Ayn Randian: you'll probably be happier not pursuing that line of thought. Just smile and enjoy whatever escapist movies are available to you overseas.

  • ||

    If this went through in more states, wouldn't the commonplace "DUI roadblocks" and unreasonable searches and seizures on people who were "swerving a little bit back there" become indefensible?

  • ||

    No way, Randolph. The cops can always claim that the devices are easy to defeat or could be malfunctioning, so they still had probable cause to pull you over.

  • ||

    If they would just grow a set and make DUI a mandatory death sentence they wouldnt need silly devices to stop folks from reoffending. Duh.
    I can see a market developing for messicans outside the bars to blow into the thing so the car starts for me.

  • ||

    A guy who used to go to my neighborhood watering hole after work had one of those devices installed on his car after getting a DUI. He did one of three things:
    1. Parked in front and left his car running (made for a short stop, tho)
    2. Had the bus boy blow into it for him (was able to stay longer)
    3. Had his son blow into it for him (he was a pretty cheesy guy - bad option)

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