Jason Kalafat On Ignition Interlock and Driver Improvement Courses in DC

The transcript below is an excerpt from an interview with Jason Kalafat Defense Attorney:

What Is Ignition Interlock and How Does It Work?

Jason Kalafat: Well, an ignition interlock is a device put in an individual’s car so the car will not start until the individual blows into the machine and provides a sample free from alcohol.

Another way of looking at it would be like a dashboard Breathalyzer. The point of the machine is to stop people from driving a car if they have any alcohol in their system. The ignition interlock comes up because, increasingly, jurisdictions are requiring the use of an ignition interlock device in a defendant’s car after a conviction for DUI. Either the court will require it or the Department of Motor Vehicles will require it for some length of time after a conviction.

What Other Circumstances Might An Individual Be Required to Install a Device On Their Vehicle?

Jason Kalafat: In most instances, an ignition interlock device will be required because an individual has more than one DUI conviction. Theoretically in DC, the Department of Motor Vehicles can require the ignition interlock device be placed in a vehicle for a person to get their driver’s license reinstated.

We haven’t seen the DC DMV invoke this authority on a regular basis, but the trend is increasing for requiring ignition interlock devices. Virginia recently has started requiring an ignition interlock device in all of their restricted permit situations. DC does not have a restricted permit for a DUI suspension or revocation. Although, we certainly will expect for the DC DMV and DC Superior Court judges to start imposing that requirement going forward because it is a trend occurring nationwide.

How Long Does The Interlock Device Need To Remain On An Individual’s Vehicle?

Jason Kalafat: That will be determined by the court or the Department of the Motor Vehicles and will vary depending upon the person’s prior driving and criminal records.

What Is a Driver Improvement Course?

Jason Kalafat: A driver improvement course is sometimes referred to as a Traffic Safety Program. Often times, this will be an online course where you’re reviewing a program on a website for several hours that re-teaches you about driving safety. If you recall, anytime you go to get a driver’s license you have to take a test that will test your knowledge of basic driving skills and laws. It’s a refresher course and at the end of it there will be a test that you have to pass in order to get your certificate of completion.

Driver improvement courses like the Traffic Safety Program are done by people in an effort to get points off their license, but it’s also something that will be required as part of probation for anyone who’s convicted of a DUI charge in DC.

What Advantages Are There For Taking a Driver Improvement Course?

Jason Kalafat: Well, someone who’s facing a DUI charge, particularly if they have any type of prior DUI conviction, should strongly consider taking a Traffic Safety Program early rather than being ordered by the court to do so at the end of the case. It’s one thing they’ll have to do later and if you’re ordered to do something, failure to do it will result in a probation violation. So, if you do it on your own early, then the court will view it as you taking proactive steps to learn from your arrest in the DUI case.

Also, it will be one less thing that your supervisory officer will demand that you do in a certain time-frame that might not be to your liking. By doing it early, you can put yourself in the best light and relieve at least one of the obligations you’ll have to do later.

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