Device aims to keep DUI offenders from having others start their vehicles

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duiSEATTLE — The New Year is bringing a new tool targeting DUI offenders in Washington state.

The device uses facial recognition. DUI offenders who have to blow into a device in their vehicle to prove they’re sober to start their car will now also have to look into a camera in the device to ensure someone else isn’t starting the car for them.

It’s a new tool that Carol and Frank Blair and other families of DUI victims feel is a step in the right direction.

“This was supposed to be passed down to Sheena when she had her first child. That won’t happen,” Carol Blair said as she began to cry.

Carol and Frank Blair still fight back tears when they think of their daughter Sheena, who was killed almost three years ago.

Frank Blair said, “It’s not something we dwell on, but it’s a day that changed our lives forever.”

One February night, Sheena and a friend were killed by a drunken driver who hit them head-on. Now two mourning parents are sharing their story to drive change.

“Every one of these DUI deaths is preventable,” Frank said.  “We felt it was our moral duty to do everything we could to prevent their families from getting that horrible knock on the door at the middle of the night.”

On Jan. 1, a new state law takes effect. Troopers say some past DUI offenders have tried to side-step their ordered vehicle interlocking systems, devices used to ensure the driver is sober.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Ken Denton said, “We’ve had complaints over the years of individuals having children blow into them to get the car started or to keep the vehicle running when it requires a re-test.”

Now those devices will come with cameras. It’s another weapon in the tool belt to curb drunken driving, but it won’t bring Sheena back. This New Year’s Eve and everyday going forward, the Blairs have advice for others. Don’t drink and drive.

Frank Blair said, “You risk killing somebody like Sheena and destroying families like us. It’s not worth it. And then you have to live with it for the rest of your life.”

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  • Jeannie Darneille

    Thanks for covering this issue. I know Frank and Carol and admire them for taking the tragedy of their daughter's death to teach others about the realities of driving under any influence. Your coverage helps expand their message.

  • Anna Conus

    Thank you for bringing to the public's attention the problem of DUI's that can and does cause fatalities on our hi-ways and by-ways. Please continue this vital life saving work.

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