Ignition interlock

Ignition interlock devices allow drivers to demonstrate they haven’t been drinking alcohol before starting a vehicle, but Washington state’s rules for using them don’t always fit with a fisherman’s unusual schedule.

LONG BEACH — The finicky nature of Washington’s ignition interlock program almost landed a man in jail after he failed to have the machine calibrated on time.

Scott Goldade, 45, appeared before Pacific County South District Court Judge Nancy McAllister on Wednesday, Sept. 25 for sentence compliance violations. Goldade missed the state-mandated bimonthly servicing of his ignition interlock. The court was also reviewing whether Goldade tampered with the device.

Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain asked McAllister to sentence Goldade to 21 days in jail. Goldade said he was relieved when McAllister said she wasn’t going to do that, opting to fine him $500 instead.

“I can totally understand if I’d failed a blow or if I was drinking and driving my vehicle, fine give me the 21 days, but over a missed calibration, this is unfair,” Goldade said in an interview with the Observer on Sept. 26.

Job vs. interlock

Goldade is on unsupervised probation for driving without an ignition interlock when required and driving while under the influence in February 2016. Goldade has previous drunk driving convictions from 2012, 2002 and 1995, McClain said.

Goldade works as a boat engineer for commercial fishing vessels. He is also the first mate on the Jamie Marie.

When Goldade got back from fishing on July 16 he realized he’d missed his service date after his car wouldn’t start.

“We fished back-to-back three to five days,” Goldade told the Observer. “Even if I had a four-hour window, it would be in the middle of the night.”

Goldade called Lisa Turpin from Crowell Brothers Inc., the autobody shop that installed and maintains his ignition interlock. Turpin was the technician who testified at Goldade’s court hearing.

She said it costs Goldade more to have the mobile service done. There is no incentive to miss a service date. The mobile service also creates a tamper report, which she explained was the one the court received on July 16.

Turpin often makes the drive from Hoquiam to Westport to do mobile service for commercial fishermen, she said in court on Sept. 25.

“I’ve had other fishermen miss dates and do other mobile services,” Turpin said in a later interview. “Have I ever heard of a prosecuting attorney going after a guy for it? No.”

Prosecutor McClain said it was rare to hold a hearing with testimony on a sentence-compliance matter. But he said the number of times Goldade had failed to comply with his sentence warranted a three-week jail sentence.

And this is not the first time Goldade has missed a court hearing or an interlock service date for work. During the court hearing, McClain mentioned multiple times that Goldade’s file on this charge was very thick.

Defense case

While there are multiple tamper reports on Goldade’s record, all of them were previously dealt with by the court, said Scott Harmer, Goldade’s public defender.

Several reports had to do with the type of vehicle Goldade was driving. Goldade’s car kept dying after the interlock was installed, Harmer said. If a car battery goes dead, the ignition interlock will generate a report.

“Different vehicles react differently. Based upon how the machines installed, you can get different reactions,” Harmer said.

When Goldade got a new car and switched the interlock, Draeger, a company that manufactures ignition interlocks and manages the data the devices generate for the courts, confirmed tampering was no longer being reported.

“Are these the violations we should really be holding against this person?” Harmer said.

Ignition interlock devices can generate tampering reports based on a car shaking too much, Turpin said. If a person eats a pickle or uses mouthwash, the device can register a bad blow, she said. The machine allows the person to blow again in a short period of time, and will allow the car to drive if the person is under the legal limit. But the court still receives a report of a bad blow.

In the past, Goldade had a hearing on a false bad blow. In that hearing, Harmer showed Goldade would have had a superhero-type metabolism to have burned off the amount of alcohol the device registered in the first blow. But despite the bad blow being false, it still adds another page to Goldade’s thick file.

Prosecutor unconvinced

McClain remains unconvinced that all Goldade’s violations can be explained away.

“In my 19 years now of doing this, that I’ve never seen this happen before,” McClain said. “So it strikes me that he is messing with this thing somehow.”

Goldade said he doesn’t mind the ignition interlock. He never worries about passing the blow test.

But he wishes he had more time between device servicing dates, or he could have the date extended when he is at work.

Washington is one of 32 states that have all-offender ignition interlock laws, meaning that an arrested or convicted drunk driver must use an interlock in order to drive while their license is suspended.

Goldade’s sentence will be up for review in July 2021. Until then he will have to continue to drive with the ignition interlock.

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