Alabama Approves New DUI Ignition Interlock Device

Posted on by DUI Attorney

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) recently approved a new ignition interlock device for use by defendants who have had interlock imposed due to an Alabama DUI conviction.  The new device is the FR9000 from Sens-O-Lock of America, LLC.  That makes a grand total of four ignition interlock devices approved in Alabama.  Last year DFS approved three devices – two from Smart Start (SSI 20/20 and SSI 20/30) and one from Draeger Safety Diagnostics, Inc. (Draeger Interlock XT).

One of the reasons so few devices have been approved is because DFS wrote the interlock regulations to require that “[t]he reference materials used for calibration and calibration verification shall be dry gas standards purchased from a gas manufacturer.”  This regulation excludes many ignition interlock devices on the market using “wet bath” standards for calibration and calibration checks.

The devices offered by these Draeger, Smart Start and Sens-O-Lock differ in the manner in which the user blows into the devices to provide a sample.  For the Draeger device, the user must blow a sample into the device, suck air back out, then blow again.  The Smart Start devices require the user to use a specific technique that is almost like humming into the device.  The Sens-O-Lock device uses what is called a “straight blow” technique where the use blows a continuous stream of air into the device for approximately four seconds.

Compared with Smart Start and Draeger, Sens-O-Lock has moved very quickly to deploy installation and service centers around the state.  Sens-O-Lock, which has only approved in the past few weeks now has eight locations open in Alabama, including two in Madison County – one in Huntsville and another in Owens Crossroads.  The current locations outside of Madison County are Birmingham, Mobile, Pelham, Sheffield, Montgomery, Coffee County and Baldwin County.  Sens-O-Lock has indicated that it expects to move into additional locations as well in the near future.  Smart Start has seven locations currently open in Birmingham, Dothan, Montgomery, Odenville, Opelika, Sylacauga and Tuscaloosa.  Smart-Start is in the process of training staff for a location in Gadsden.  Draeger only has two locations in Alabama, Pelham and Scottsboro.  However, the Scottsboro location also has a mobile unit which can service surrounding areas.

It does not appear that we will be seeing anymore newly approved ignition interlock devices for the time being.  DFS has posted a notice on their website that they stopped accepting devices for approval on December 31, 2012.