Bill requires DUI offenders to purchase new device

Breathalyzer install cost starts around $1,000 for Washington



First-time DUI offenders will be required to have further consequences with the addition of ignition interlock devices, which is essentially a breathalyzer.

ELAYNE RODRIGUEZ, Evergreen reporter

First-time drunken driving offenders in Idaho are required to install an ignition interlock device, due to a bill effective since Jan. 1.

Police Operations Commander Chris Tennant said the ignition interlock device is a civilian breathalyzer. If the person blows into the device with a certain alcohol level, then the car will not turn on.

Bill Thompson, Latah County prosecuting attorney, said the DUI bill passed in 2018.

“The way [the state] handles a DUI isn’t going to change, this is just an additional consequence that people have that drive under the influence,” Thompson said.

He said the device price varies. The installation fees are approximately $90, or $130 with a camera included. Monthly monitoring fees are about $75, or $100 with a camera included, plus a 6 percent sales tax.

Thompson said Idaho provides monitoring and service locations in Grangeville, Lewiston, Moscow, Nezperce and Orofino.

Tennant said the devices are costly in the Palouse. There isn’t a local area to have them installed. Spokane is the closest place to lease a device, and the cost is approximately $1,000.

He said Pullman police officers do not get a list to track people who have driving restrictions.

“If we pull you over and see the restriction on your license and you’re driving a friend’s car that doesn’t have [the device] in there,” Tennant said, “then that is an act of criminal offense.”

Thompson said the device will not necessarily affect the police officers. If they catch a first time DUI offender driving without the breathalyzer, the offender will get a citation.

“The primary motivation is to reduce the chance of people driving vehicles while they are under the influence of alcohol,” Thompson said.

DUIs have caused a number of injuries and deaths, Tennant said, and Idaho is looking for methodologies to prevent those incidents from happening again.