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DMV to study how ignition-interlock vendor chosen

Posted May 11, 2010

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— The state Division of Motor Vehicles will review how suppliers of ignition-interlock systems within North Carolina are certified because of concerns about the process, DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson said Tuesday.

Robertson halted the bidding for the ignition locks in March because the independent lab responsible for testing the devices as part of the certification process for vendors didn't test some locks last year.

An ignition-interlock system prevents a driver from starting a car until a breath analyzer has cleared the driver as being sober enough to get behind the wheel.

North Carolina courts began using the devices in 1989 in drunken-driving cases, and since then, the only firm the DMV has certified to sell the devices in the state is Morrisville-based Monitech Inc.

Monitech competitor Smart Start Inc. filed suit in January in the Office of Administrative Hearing, alleging that the DMV has unfairly blocked the Texas company's attempts to sell ignition-interlock systems in North Carolina.

The lawsuit alleges that the DMV selection process requires patents that give Monitech an unfair advantage to win the state business. Court documents also allege that agency employees might have accepted gratuities, which could have influenced their decision on the contract.

"The interlock program is important to the safety of the motoring public and should be established in a fair and open manner," Robertson said in a statement issued Tuesday.

He said he has formed a panel of experts from DMV and other government agencies to study the program and recommend changes to the certification process. The group also will study interlock technology used in other states and foreign countries, he said.

"North Carolina not only wants the best technology reasonably available, but we also would like to encourage competition in the open market," he said.

By some estimates, the North Carolina market for the ignition-interlock systems is worth $10 million a year.

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  • I Hate Roxboro May 11, 2010

    any body wanta buy a bridge 2 nowhere

  • didormanii May 11, 2010

    Leave it to DMV to come up with some "Hogwash" that they are going to have to "study it". They should all be replaced for "Lack of Compentancy" and /or a "Feeble Attempt to cover up their wrongdoing". Any imbecile can figure out that it violates "Interstate Portability" in the event one chooses to relocate, causing undue hardship. There actions are a clear cut case of "Racketeering"

  • Inter Alios May 11, 2010

    Whaddaya mean they are going to "study" it. They gave the exclusive contract to Monitec; they know how they did it. Quit stalling and open it up to fair competition. Sounds like they're buying time to try to figure out how to leave it with Monitec.

  • gingerlynn May 11, 2010

    I have an idea. Don't give dwi convicts a provisional license and they won't need the ingition lock!

  • WHEEL May 11, 2010

    If they want a review done in a "fair and open manner" they better get someone besides the DMV to do it.

  • mulecitybabe May 11, 2010

    In other news, the fox is checking the hen house for security breeches.

  • Kelondris May 11, 2010

    Is it wrong to give our own people who live here some business, so we can keep unemployment down. I think it is great they are using a local company. Though if there are under the table dealings, that needs to be straightened out.