CONCORD, N.H. -- Judges will soon be able to order people convicted of drunken driving to install special devices on their cars to monitor their blood-alcohol levels.
``Right now we're introducing the judges to the device, as well as reintroducing them to the law, and at least one company is ready to begin implementing them. We're right on the edge of being able to do this," said Judge Edwin Kelly, the administrative judge for the district courts.
The devices act like a car key. The driver blows into a tube, and the car won't start if the driver's breath registers a blood-alcohol level above a certain point. The devices also require random tests while the car is moving to ensure drivers don't get someone else to start the car for them.
If the driver fails to blow into the machine during the rolling test, the horn will begin to sound and will not stop until the car comes to a rest. Once the car has stopped, it will shut off and cannot be restarted until an alcohol-free sample is provided.
The state passed a law in 2002 requiring the devices for some convicted drunken drivers, but they couldn't be installed until companies were hired to provide and service them.
Offenders pay for the installation, monthly monitoring, and resetting if a driver's car ignition is locked repeatedly because of high alcohol levels.
``While it isn't foolproof, it has been shown to keep people who have been drinking off the roads," said Dave Arringdale of Consumer Safety Technology, one of two companies hired to provide the devices.
The interlock will cost $65 a month. There will be 15 service centers across the state by mid-October, plus three facilities with remote installation capabilities.