Cameras Wanted with Breathalyzers

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ILLINOIS (WIFR) -- First time DUI offenders in Illinois have been required to take an in-car breathalyzer every time they drive since 2009.

The program has been so successful, the National Transportation Safety Board is recommending all first time offenders get them installed nationwide.

But a 23 News investigation has learned there are some major loopholes and now the Illinois Secretary of State's office is recommending a big change in law.

“I was leaving a wedding reception," says Kimmy Stardy.

"It snuck up on me and I didn't realize it," says Carlos Campos.

Every time they start their cars and randomly every few minutes Carlos Campos and Kimmy Stardy must prove they didn't drink alcohol. That's the punishment for getting DUIs.

"I absolutely should not have been driving," says Stardy.

Three hundred and twenty-three Stateliners are currently driving around with court-ordered breathalyzers installed on their cars. Illinois law started requiring them in 2009.

“It’s good for business and it's good for the state of Illinois and good for drivers. It keeps people who are impaired off the road, because if you had two beers and got in, that will lock this thing up in a second," says Mike Sonneson, co-owner of Cars and Stereos in Rockford.

"We solder all of our connections and can tell if someone tampered with it, the device also can detect if someone tampered with it," says Jerry DiBartolomeo, State Director for LifeSafer.

But it doesn't detect who's taking the test. That's why the Secretary of State's office is recommending cameras be installed too.

"This indicates to a lot of people they cannot manipulate the system and if they do, they're gonna get caught," says Dave Druker, Press Secretary for Secretary of State Jesse White.

The driver's picture will be taken every time they blow. That picture will be stored in a database in case they blame a failed test on someone else.

"The biggest thing they'll say is, it wasn't me that was driving, I lent the car to somebody. The idea with the camera is it will give us conclusive proof and that will eliminate that argument," says Druker.

It could also help prove if a passenger, even a child, took the test instead.

“To a point it could be embarrassing," says Stardy.

The device might not be embarrassing enough. They were installed on more local cars last year than when the law first took effect. But in their most recent figures, the Secretary of State's office says statewide, DUI arrests actually went down 16-percent.

The Secretary of State's office just made its recommendation to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. They'll review the proposal and then bring it to the Illinois General Assembly. The office would like cameras to be required by this July first. If approved, Illinois would become the sixth state to require them.

DUI offenders would be required to pay for the cameras, which will be between ten and twenty dollars a month. That's on top of monthly monitoring fees. Cars and Stereos in Rockford charges 67 dollars a month, plus a 75-dollar install fee. Between that, court costs and attorney fees, Kimmy Stardy estimates her DUI will cost roughly 10-grand.

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