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Originally published Tuesday, December 26, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Apparently, not everyone gets interlocks' message

A trip to an ignition-interlock installer shows two sides of drunken driving: one driver who says he's learned his lesson and another who...

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

A trip to an ignition-interlock installer shows two sides of drunken driving: one driver who says he's learned his lesson and another who apparently hasn't.

Ignition Interlock of Washington, in Bellevue, is one of dozens of garages certified by the State Patrol to install the interlocks.

None of the drivers interviewed at the Bellevue garage would give their names; all had been convicted of driving under the influence.

A 31-year-old man having his interlock device installed in a Honda Civic said he got a ticket, did not injure anyone and gave up drinking.

"It's not that important to me," he said about the alcohol, adding that he also had to spend one day in jail and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as part of his sentence.

"I take responsibility for what I did and it was a bad thing," he said. "What's more important? Going out and having a beer or killing someone?"

A few minutes later, a silver Volkswagen pulled in. The driver said she'd gone through nearly two years of trouble since getting a DUI at 21.

She said she adhered to her sentence and didn't drive for six months, instead riding with friends. Now she is paying about $70 a month for the interlock.

She was at the garage to have the interlock checked and calibrated, which is required every 60 days.

After she left, manager Brianna Mahoney and installer Scott Vagt went over her driving log.

The log showed the VW failed to start several times because the interlock detected alcohol in the driver's system.

At 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 19, for example, it recorded a 0.03 percent blood-alcohol reading. At 11:43 a.m. on Sept. 21, it showed a 0.07 reading.

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Both readings are below the state's legal limit for intoxication, 0.08. But a DUI offender cannot drink and drive, even if the blood-alcohol level is below the legal limit.

The Honda driver offered up his idea for making interlock use more widespread.

They'd be widely used if insurance companies would promote them by perhaps offering a $500-a-year cut in premiums, he said. They wouldn't have to pay so much for cars wrecked by drunken drivers, and a sober driver would save money, he said.

"You'd think that after a while, they should build them into all cars," he said.

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