Anti-DUI arsenal has new tools
Two companies that offer law enforcement tools to combat intoxicated driving presented their wares at the Lycoming County DUI Advisory Council meeting Tuesday at the Ross Club.
Kathleen Riley, director of marketing for Smart Start Inc., based in Irving, Texas, showed council members in attendance her company’s Ignition Interlock and IN-HOM alcohol monitoring devices.
Riley said her company’s interlock device has prevented more than 7 million people from driving because their vehicle would not start, since the would-be driver had alcohol on his or her breath.
“Getting interlock and driving with it helps them make that life change,” Riley said. “From 50- to 75-percent of drunk drivers drive drunk again … with interlock, classes and treatment we’ve got it down to about 30 percent who drink and drive again.”
A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate in 2011. and still in discussion, proposes strengthening requirements for DUI offenders, including requiring some first-time offenders to install the device in their vehicle, Riley said.
SmartStart’s in-home monitoring device uses cellular phone signals to download readings.
“If an offender chooses not to do interlock the in-home is something they could use to make a positive life change,” Riley said. “It’s $5 a day, and we do the installation and training and do the monitoring.”
“Door County (Wisc.) uses it as a step-down program, after someone’s been on a bracelet,” said Kim Wible, Smart Start’s judicial services liaison for Pennsylvania.
The council also heard from Reynold Dyson, a manager for NMS Labs, of Willow Grove, which provides toxicology testing for Lycoming County law enforcement.
In the last year, NMS has started offering its services directly to local police departments, rather than going through previous intermediary Susquehanna Health.
“When a department orders a test now we can test for everything,” Dyson said. “Our toxicology staff can give some guidance to officers, by asking how the subject was behaving, and they can be a bridge between the incident and the results.”
NMS stays on top of trends in designer drugs, such as synthetic marijuana.
“We purchase new compounds off the Internet and run analysis on them,” Dyson said. “What you see in the drugs maybe 18 months ago, they’re not present now – the manufacturers are always changing them.”
Dyson’s lab has seen more usage of legal prescription drugs in recent times.
“You might see results that are within the therapeutic range for each drug, but when you put all the pieces of the puzzle together you have impairment,” he said.
Chief William Solomon, of the Old Lycoming Township Police Department, reported that the DUI Task Force processed 17 people at the county DUI center over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
“Wherever you went you bumped into a police car,” Solomon said.