Drunken drivers' parole lax

April 21, 2007|By Greg Garland

The state probation and parole office hasn't been vigilant in ensuring that court-ordered monitoring devices were installed on the cars of convicted drunken drivers, according to a report by legislative auditors.

The auditors' findings were based on a small sample taken from a program in which "ignition interlock devices" are installed on the vehicles of offenders placed on probation after drunken driving convictions.

The device connects a motor vehicle's ignition system to a Breathalyzer unit. Before starting the vehicle, the driver has to breathe into the unit, which records the results. The device prevents the vehicle from starting if it registers positive for alcohol consumption.

Auditors said they sampled 11 cases in which the courts ordered such devices installed. They found no documentation that this had been done in two cases. They also found no records of required monthly reports on attempts by drivers to start their vehicles in five of the cases they examined.

The probation and parole office "did not ensure that the ignition interlock devices were always installed on offenders' vehicles and did not always obtain monthly reports of offenders' attempts to start their vehicles," the audit report states.

In a written response to the audit, Judith Sachwald, director of the Department of Public Safety's Division of Parole and Probation, wrote that the agency is taking action to address the problems.

"The division will enforce its policy requiring that an offender provide verification that interlock devices have been installed on an offender's vehicle when the court orders the interlock device as a condition of probation," she wrote.

Sachwald also said vendors who provide the devices will be reminded of their responsibility to submit monthly reports to her agency, for each person who has such a device in their vehicle.

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