Ignition interlock devices useful, judge says

CINCINNATI -- Last year, Ohio law changed to allow first-time OVI offenders to keep their driver licenses, if they install an ignition interlock device. 

The devices require drivers to blow and pass a breathalyzer test each time they drive. Leo Rycraw, the director of Ohio Interlock, said they now have cameras that show the person blowing is the driver. 

Violations are reported to the courts. But Rycraw said there's a disconnect when judges remove devices and revoke licenses because of violations. 

"This guy is a hardcore alcoholic, and now we have taken the restraints away," Rycraw said.

Some makers of the devices were hoping more judges would use them when the law went into effect last year. Those that do said it's an effective tool. Hamilton County Municipal Judge Dwane Mallory said judges make decisions case-by-case, but he thinks the devices are useful. 

"I think it's better to monitor them, and we have more restrictive things we can do, too," he said. "We have a scram unit which can be applied to the wrist to monitor alcohol intake."

Rycraw said he believes the devices make everyone safer.

"Our mission is to really help people," he said.

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