Weird DUI: Chew Gum and Go to Jail?

weird dui chew gum

For as long as there have been cars and alcohol, there have been drunk drivers. As such, there have been all types of ways people have tried to get out of a DUI. With today’s police breathalyzer and ignition interlock technology, it is more and more difficult to hide how intoxicated we are, yet people still insist on tricks like sucking on pennies or chewing gum to beat or get out of a breathalyzer test.

Wait, can we chew gum and confuse the DUI breathalyzer test?

No, of course not. Let’s dispel this rumor for once and for all.

It is true that some mouthwashes that keep our breath minty fresh can actually affect the reading on a police breathalyzer or ignition interlock. Both devices detect ethanol, the alcohol that is present in beer, wine or liquor. The same alcohol is used in some mouthwashes, and if there is any residue remaining from a quick swish, then the breathalyzer or interlock can detect it. The only similarity between gum and mouthwash is a mint flavor. There is no ethanol in gum.

On top of that, some mint gum may have sorbitol or other alcohol sugars listed as an ingredient. That’s all different, too, as nobody has ever gotten drunk or even buzzed off of too much sugar-free gum. The gum you chew, while possibly approved by four out of five dentists, cannot affect the result of your breathalyzer or ignition interlock breath test.

Most of the time, people confuse the reasons why breathalyzer tests aren’t considered reliable by the court and use that misinformation to try to beat the test. Given our current technology and the millions of people who have tried to get out of a DUI in weird ways, the effort we put into getting out of a DUI is best used to just plan for a safe ride home.

No More SUI – Shopping Under the Influence

SUI shopping under the influenceHow did you end up with three matching kayaks and a box of ping pong balls? Perhaps your determination to stay home and drink safely resulted in a new, less dangerous, but still just as expensive habit: SUI. SUI or shopping under the influence (of alcohol) is rapidly becoming a problem, at least for those who must foot the bill for their intoxicated spending sprees. Where do people turn to when trying to battle their “UI” demons? Breathalyzer technology, that’s where.

Breathalyzer technology is generally thought of only in terms of drinking and driving. Law enforcement uses it for testing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when ascertaining whether a suspect is legally intoxicated or not. That same technology is used in ignition interlock devices to prevent DUI offenders from making another intoxicated mistake. That has led to pocket breathalyzers and smartphone breathalyzers that have seemingly evolved into a way to make sure we don’t SUI.

The app works just like a breathalyzer or ignition interlock device. Blow into the mouthpiece and your BAC is calculated. If the BAC measures at or above a certain level, then you are not allowed to spend your hard-earned money on things you wouldn’t buy if you were sober.

Just one final point. As long as people are home while drinking, they’re not on the roads trying to drive. It probably isn’t too likely that they’re spending more than the cost of a DUI (upwards of $10,000) and what’s the harm of shopping on a drunken whim, anyway? The advances in breathalyzer technology are creating all types of situations where people are aware of the effects of alcohol on their decision making, which may lead to better judgment before they head out for a night of drinks with friends. These little gadgets that are preventing alcohol-infused decisions are slowly taking over the world, teaching lessons too many people used to ignore.

Can I Drive Another Car if I Have an Ignition Interlock?

Friends don't let friends drive without ignition interlock An ignition interlock device is a commitment to sober driving and a better life after a DUI, especially when you trust the process. We get that it can be frustrating, but there’s simply no easier way to get on with your life while proving you’ll never make another impaired mistake again. That also means that you have to drive your vehicle only when it is equipped with the interlock.

Can I drive a friend’s car? No, unless your state law explicitly states this is legal, you cannot borrow your friend’s car. The exception might be if that friend also has an ignition interlock. Even then, check with your probation officer or ignition interlock provider to be sure.

Can I rent a car? No, just no. Not one rental car company will allow you to drive their vehicles, as your driver’s license will clearly indicate your ignition interlock restriction. It is highly unlikely that those companies will install an interlock on a vehicle for you either.

Can I test drive a car? Nope. Much like renting a car, you’re going to have a tough time getting a dealership to install a “quickie” ignition interlock on their vehicles, just for a test drive. Plus, dealerships will also see your restriction on your license, and in some states, that could mean legal trouble for “knowingly allowing an interlock-restricted driver to drive a non-interlock equipped vehicle.”

What about at work? In some states, you can actually qualify for an employment exemption if you are required to drive a vehicle as a part of your normal duties. Check with your ignition interlock service provider for details.

Also, remember that not driving isn’t really an option when you have an ignition interlock on your vehicle. The device records more than just information about your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as you drive, like the amount of starts and stops you make, how many miles you drive, how long you take to drive, etc. That information can be used to determine whether you are driving your interlock-equipped vehicle or perhaps driving a friend’s car instead.

Ignition Interlock Info: Can I Drink at Home?

drink at home with an ignition interlockSo you have an ignition interlock device in your life now, which gives you the freedom to drive. That also means you have a lot of responsibility to prove, which is kind of the point. Once you’ve settled into the routine with your device and new life, you may actually have more questions. In particular, you might be wondering what your limitations with alcohol are apart from driving.

You’re a grown-up, and make your own choices. An ignition interlock device doesn’t stop you from making a choice to drink. It does prevent you from drinking and driving. In most cases, you are okay to drink when you’re at home, or even if you’re out and about. In either case, you should not have any plans to drive until you’re sure you are sober.

Any amount of alcohol you consume can be recorded by your ignition interlock device and could potentially be a violation.

On the other hand, if you are part of a 24/7 sobriety program, you no longer have any choice about whether you drink alcohol or not. You are expected to submit clean breath samples throughout the day, not just before you try to drive, as with an ignition interlock. Obviously that means you cannot drink at home, out on the town, or anywhere.

In most cases, an ignition interlock requirement (and even a 24/7 sobriety program) doesn’t last forever. While it may be inconvenient to refrain from drinking with friends, the benefit is that you can continue to drive. The device gives you back your life, almost as if a DUI never happened, essentially restoring your freedom to choose your own adventures in life, as long as your driving adventures are sober ones.

Vehicle Interlock or Ignition Interlock Device?

vehicle interlock or ignition interlock deviceAcross the U.S. we often find regional terminology for ordinary things we’d normally never think twice about. For example, some people will call an ignition interlock device a vehicle interlock or car breathalyzer. No matter where you are from, where you got a DUI, or what you call the ignition interlock, it is a tool you’ll need to retain your independence after a drunk driving conviction.

28 states now require vehicle interlocks for all offenses, and many states offer or require the devices through the DMV before you even get into court. California has already expanded ignition interlock requirements in the state, effective next year, and states like Florida and Wisconsin are looking at similar expansion. The reasons ignition interlock devices are so trusted by courts across the U.S. is simple: they have effectively prevented up to 15 percent of DUI fatalities.

When you drink and drive, there is a choice involved in getting behind the wheel and starting up your vehicle. AT some point, you probably wondered if you were okay to drive, and just decided to take a risk. Without knowing your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) you probably assumed your buzz was just that, a buzz. Unfortunately, that’s a common assumption, one that too often ends in tragedy.

Despite vehicle interlock expansion, DUI numbers rose significantly in 2016.

The devices can only work when they are used, which means installing the devices as ordered by the court. That also means you must commit to driving the car with the vehicle interlock installed, and not try to circumvent your requirement by driving a different vehicle. Ignition interlock devices prevent 67 percent of subsequent DUI attempts, which means even with the devices, people are still trying to drink and drive. In MADD’s latest report, ignition interlock devices prevented 2.3 million attempts to drink and drive over the past decade. That’s how effective they are, no matter what you call them.

California Ignition Interlock Device Exemptions

California ignition interlock exemptionCalifornia is working hard this year to get ready for the statewide ignition interlock expansion in 2018. Until then, there are four counties (Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento) that require the devices, without exception. Unless, of course, you qualify for a California ignition interlock exemption.

You qualify for a California ignition interlock device exemption if:

  • You don’t or have access to a vehicle at your residence and
  • You no longer have access to the vehicle that was driven DUI offense occurred.
  • You certify that you know you can only drive a vehicle that has a certified IID installed.
  • You certify you will have a valid driver license before driving.
  • You acknowledge that you will install an IID if/when you purchase or gain access to a vehicle.

You only have one chance to qualify for the the exemption, and that is within 30 days of receiving the requirement notification. If you own a vehicle that doesn’t run or work, that will not be enough to qualify for the exemption.

Qualifying for the exemption doesn’t get you out of the requirement, and it should not be taken as a way to circumvent that part of your DUI consequences. If you are caught driving a vehicle that has no ignition interlock installed, you will be in violation of your court order and the exemption agreement, including possible criminal charges.

Soon enough, California will expand ignition interlock access across the state, allowing more people the ability to drive themselves to work, medical appointments and continue life as seamlessly as possible after a DUI. While there are certain circumstances where an interlock exemption may be needed, in most cases, using the device as instructed and for the time it is ordered in use is the best way to handle things after the DUI dust settles.

“I Drove without My Arizona Ignition Interlock!”

Don't drive without your Arizona ignition interlockWhen you have an Arizona DUI, you are expected to follow your court order to the letter. That means your ignition interlock requirement is essential in the process, and not something you can blow off… even if you’re just running down the street to the store. Arizona requires ignition interlock devices for all DUIs, even a first-time offense.

Driving without a required Arizona ignition interlock device means your requirement will be extended an additional year from the original date you were eligible to have the device removed. So, your quick drive results in your extended commitment to sober driving with the interlock.

That is just one violation of your ignition interlock requirement. You could also face similar consequences for failing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test too many times. If your device records data that shows any circumvention or tampering, you could be in violation. Refusing a startup or rolling retest are also violations, all of which could mean your requirement is extended or that you are removed from the program entirely.

“I was also intoxicated when they caught me driving without my Arizona ignition interlock device.”

Unfortunately, now there are even more obstacles in your path to regaining your freedom. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the number of offenses on your record, you will certainly have an extension in the program, if not a complete removal. Plus, you’ll have all of the additional penalties for a second or subsequent DUI. The reality is that the interlock requirement was there to prevent this very situation, and now you will have to face those very real consequences.

Even if you don’t like your interlock, your best way to get through the requirement is to use it as directed and calmly wait for the day it is uninstalled. That’s the day you can look forward to driving from the service center without another thought to your interlock.

Can I Get a Shorter Ignition Interlock Requirement with Good Behavior?

Ignition interlock good behaviorBecause of a drunk driving conviction, you may have an ignition interlock requirement. Although it can require a little extra time, all in all, your interlock isn’t a big deal. You’ve gotten used to it, you understand its purpose and you know you’ll never try to drink and drive again. For some other criminal penalties, it isn’t uncommon for the required time to be reduced. Is that even a possibility when you have an ignition interlock device?

If you have an ignition interlock device, you should expect to keep it for the duration of your court or DMV requirement.

From an administrative perspective, there’s not a great way to go about any sort of early termination of an ignition interlock requirement. That is, unless the termination is due to non-compliance. The legal aspects of that would probably kill any sort of interlock allegiance and you’d just not even have the option to have the device in the first place.

Removal from an ignition interlock program is possible, and pretty much guaranteed with enough program violations. Tampering with the device, circumventing it or otherwise trying to fool your interlock will result in either an extension of the required time or removal from the program entirely. If that is the case, then you’ll be back to a suspended or revoked license, and in some cases you could have additional criminal penalties, too.

Even if you never have an ignition interlock violation, you shouldn’t expect any “time off for good behavior” with the device. Just the fact that you can retain most of your independence and drive yourself around is a good amount of freedom you wouldn’t have otherwise, and you are expected to fulfill the requirement. Besides, you’re already doing so well with the device, you may as well use it to prove once and for all that you are committed to nothing less than sober driving.

Can I Move to a New State with an Ignition Interlock?

Can I move to a new state with an ignition interlock?An ignition interlock allows plenty of freedom to drive, but what does that mean when you may have to move across state lines? Not a lot, except that you are still required to maintain your interlock for the duration of time the court or your state driver’s license agency says.

Whether you’re moving or if you have a DUI in another state, the process is similar. One state needs the data from your ignition interlock device, while another state is where that data is collected from your device. It isn’t complicated, but please ensure the following:

  • The court in which you received your DUI understands that another state will be involved in the ignition interlock process.
  • The ignition interlock service provider in your residential state understands your situation and has worked with other states/agencies before.
  • You are able to make it to any appointments for your interlock, even during your move. Missing an appointment is a violation, no matter the circumstances you’re facing.

Also, make sure the people or department in both states are informed that you are moving to a new state. That will keep any hiccups during the process to a minimum, and keep you compliant with your court order.

What if your new state has a different ignition interlock requirement than your former state of residence?

You are still required to fulfill the requirements of the state in which you received the DUI, even if you didn’t live there at the time. The majority of states share traffic violation information, like drunk driving incidents, reckless driving, and ignition interlock requirements. If you are not compliant with the state your DUI occurred in, then your residential state can step in and suspend or revoke your license or impose additional penalties on top of those from the other state.

How to Keep Driving After a California DUI

Driving after a California DUI2016 brought some big changes to California DUI law. For instance, ignition interlock access was expanded throughout the state, although that program won’t be enacted until 2018. That means that eventually, anyone who is convicted of a DUI will have equal access to ignition interlock devices. Before we all start to grumble about the frustration of an interlock, remember that before it becomes an option, we all have a choice to make about drinking and driving. After a DUI, the interlock gives us back our ability to choose how we get to keep driving. It isn’t all bad.

An ignition interlock device lets you keep driving after a California DUI.

If you live in those four California counties that already have all-offender interlock requirements, then nothing changes for you. If you are convicted of a DUI, even a first offense, you will have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare or Sacramento Counties so that you can keep driving.

The rest of California will have to wait until the expansion is enacted state-wide, which means a DUI offender outside of those counties will have to wait out their driver’s license suspension, too. To the grumblers who feel an ignition interlock is more trouble than it is worth, just remember that if you’re caught driving illegally on a suspended license, you’ll face additional criminal and legal consequences.

Nobody wants to give up their freedom, and that includes the freedom to drive independently. But a DUI complicates that freedom. Once California fully expands ignition interlock access, the state will be in a much better position in the fight against drunk driving. More people will be able to continue to maintain their home and employment obligations, and the rest of us will be able to sleep better knowing there are fewer drunk drivers on the roads.

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