>>> The News: JAY KAY!
By staff writer Amir Blumenfeld
April 6, 2005

The real news (for boring people)
The breakdown (for college people)

N.M. Drunken Drivers Using Ignition Locks

By DEBORAH BAKER, Associated Press Writer

SANTA FE, N.M. – Chris Romero hops into his blue-and-white Ford pickup, clicks the ignition on and then off again, and reaches for what looks like a black cell phone hanging from his dashboard.

So far I'm LOVING this story. It's got it all: a hero, a black cell phone hanging, reaching, and a dashboard.

“Ready for test. Please blow,” reads the display screen on the device.

This sounds an awful lot like a prostitution accreditation test.

Romero blows for about four seconds into a short plastic tube that sticks out of the top, then hears a beep. He has passed the test — the screen says, “Drive safely.”

Romero then removes the plastic tube out of his face, downs a six-pack and crashes into 5-year-old girl. The system has been beaten and most importantly, nobody got hurt.

The twice-convicted drunken driver is, indeed, driving safely these days — thanks to his determination and the help of an ignition interlock, which would prevent him from starting the truck if he had been drinking.

“Yeah, if I ever wanna go drinkin' and drivin' I use my OTHER car.” Romero says, much to the chagrin of other Santa Fe residents.

“I just think it's a really good thing,” said Romero, 42, who gave up alcohol after the device was installed three months ago. “It's almost a safety net.”

“Almost!” Romero added, drunkenly.

With about 2,600 offenders a year ordered by courts to get interlocks, New Mexico has more of them currently installed per capita than any other state.

Ah yes, that would explain their state quarters, “New Mexico: More of them currently installed per capita than any other state.” My god that's small writing. Now my eyes hurt.

And that number could skyrocket. All convicted drunken drivers — nearly 13,000 annually — will be required to get interlocks under a new law Gov. Bill Richardson planned to sign on Wednesday.

His name, is GOV. RICHARD BILLSON, you inconsiderate FACT CHECKER!

While interlocks are employed to varying degrees in more than 40 states, New Mexico will be the first to require such broad use.

In more than 40? Why don't they give the exact number! Is 41 too hard to type out?! …Yes, I'm being told the 1 is too—OUCH! 1—OWWWW!!

“What's unique about it is that it's the entire state, and a mandate for first offenders,” said Paul Marques, senior research scientist with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md.

Oh, is that what's unique about it? Because I like to form my own opinions PAUL! And what I think is unique about it is the part where the robot who tells you to DRIVE SAFELY!

Marques says that studies point to a big drop — 40 percent to 95 percent — in DWI re-arrests while interlocks are in use.

Other more fundamental studies show that 40 to 95 is too large a range for normal studies. Try narrowing that number down egghead.

New Mexico has been grappling for years with an intractable DWI problem. New Mexico had the sixth highest rate in the nation for alcohol-related highway deaths in 2003. There were 213 fatalities and 3,500 alcohol-involved crashes, according to state officials.

I'd start by changing the name of your state. I don't care how new it is, it still says Mexico.

The new law requires interlocks for one year for a first conviction, two years for a second, three years for a third, and for a lifetime — with appeals at five-year intervals — for a fourth or subsequent conviction.

If they get three convictions, maybe it's time to start thinking that interlock system isn't working very well. Especially because when the driver blows into the breathalyzer, and fails, the only change is the robotic voice saying “Seriously! DRIVE VERY VERY SAFELY!”

Opponents say the new law is too punitive and would disproportionately affect the poor, who they argued are more likely to get convicted.

OPPONENTS?! There are opponents to anti-drunk driving laws?!? Is there a Drunk Driver's Union that they're offending here? MFDD: Mothers For Drunk Driving?

Advocates acknowledge that the system is not foolproof. Some judges don't order interlocks — even when the law says they must. And some offenders ignore interlock mandates, or install them and then drive other vehicles.

So you're saying that some fools can still ruin this system? Perhaps some…APRIL FOOLS! THAT'S RIGHT! THIS WHOLE ARTICLE IS A JOKE!!! Ok, no it's not. Keep reading.

State Sen. Phil Griego, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for four years, used the device for more than a year after his second DWI arrest.

That's right. State Sen. Phil Griego is a recovering alcoholic who's been sober for only FOUR YEARS! HE'S BEEN A SENATOR FOR 12!!! (Assumably.)

“It really helped me when I got the urge to drink, knowing that if I had a drink I couldn't start my truck,” he said.

Ahaha, why does everybody in this god forsaken state drive a truck.

During an hour-long lunch break from his job at a print shop, Romero's interlock demands that he test two more times, five minutes after he starts the truck and about 40 minutes later.

Even if he's not driving he has to get back into his truck and take the test, lest he risk having his car explode.

He has six minutes to comply with the retest demand, or else his horn honks until the truck turns off. Some interlock systems can shut off vehicles, but New Mexico doesn't allow that.

His horn honks until the truck turns off? I didn't know that engines run on horn honk….that if you honk enough your car will just die.

Without a license after his arrest last summer, Romero often ended up walking the five miles between home and work. His interlock has made it easier to keep his job.

Two words dude: CAR POOL. Am I right or what?!

“Some people call it an inconvenience,” he said. “I say that it's just exactly the opposite, because you're still able to live your life.”

Wow. I had NO idea that Romero was a fucking POET. Now get in the truck and start the damn car PABLO NERUDA.