AUGUSTA – Paul Gasper had three mixed drinks before going to a state Legislature committee meeting Wednesday.

“How do you feel?” Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, asked the executive director of the Maine Association of Police.

“If I had to make a decision, I would not drive,” Gasper responded.

He was asked to blow into a device, and it beeped. He had failed the sobriety test.

Gasper was part of a demonstration to the Criminal Justice Committee on ignition interlock devices.

Had he been a convicted drunken driver trying to get in his car at that point, he wouldn’t be able to start the vehicle.

A bill before the state Legislature would require officials to install the devices on offenders’ cars, after they had been convicted of a designated number of operating under the influence offenses.

The bill targets those convicted of operating under the influence who habitually reoffend.

The bill is being worked on in the Criminal Justice Committee, whose members have not yet voted on a recommendation to the full Legislature on the bill.

There are several questions left to be answered, Diamond said, such as how many convictions one will need to have, and how to deal with multi-car families.

On Wednesday, Jack Dalton of the National Interlock Service gave a full demonstration of the device and explained how it prevents people from “tricking” the device.

When those with the device get into their car, they will be required to blow into the device for five seconds and hum, so the device knows it’s not another air source, Dalton said.

They get three tries to have less than a .025 blood alcohol level, and then it locks down and won’t be enabled for another 15 minutes.

After they’ve been driving for five minutes, they are required to take another test while they are on the road to ensure they didn’t just have a friend blow into it to start.

From that point on, they take another test every 20 to 40 minutes, Dalton explained.

If they fail the test on the road, the horn will blare until they shut the car off.

Many of the 10 states that use the devices require offenders to have them for 60 days.

After that time, they check in with a control center official who analyzes all the tests taken, and reports them to law enforcement who will decide how to proceed.

The blood alcohol content level required to pass the test is much lower than the legal level, Diamond said.

This is because those convicted of drunk driving are not supposed to drink as part of their probation.


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