Please wait…blow now

Pamela Kloosterman, Editor-in-Chief

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  Dempsey Page arrives promptly at 8:15 the Guardian Interlock office, a company that installs breathalyzers for people who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated.

  There are only three reasons to visit this office, you are having an ignition interlock system wired into your car, a monthly recalibration, yes monthly, or your sentence has been served and the interlock is removed. Page was there to have her interlock system recalibrated (monthly visits). Others were there to have an ignition interlock installed. Unlike the rooms at AA, NA, CA, Al-Anon, etc. there is no anonymity.

  Although just like in the rooms (meeting place), a great deal of humiliation looms. The fact is everyone who goes to Guardian has an immediate connection to one another.

  Guardian is strictly a company that installs, recalibrates and removes the ignition interlock. The room is buzzing with ‘war stories’ of what can, and did go wrong when they first had the interlock installed.

  Page seems to very comfortable surrounded by freshmen to the world of ignition interlock. She is humorous, sarcastic, and somewhat self-deprecating. She admittedly confesses she falls on her own sword faster than someone else can take the opportunity.

  Page strikes up conversations by asking everyone who comes in, “how long have you had your interlock?”.

  Several of the people were there for installs, others awaiting recalibration. Surprisingly no one was there to have the interlock removed. When she hears the all too common phrase ‘I’m here to have the interlock installed’, she grimaces with empathy. She has only 29 days remaining as prisoner of her one-year sentence.

  Page immediately launches into her tale. She goes on by sharing the litany of inconveniences as though she had them written down and memorized. Before your car will even start, you need to blow, hum and inhale. If that isn’t bad enough, a camera is mounted to the windshield. Each time you blow the camera captures the drivers face (proof of who was operating the vehicle).

  There was an assortment of stories shared. A couple of neophytes had the look of foreboding doom.

  Page is happy to be in the office of Guardian Interlock, she only has 29 days remaining. Her next visit will be to have the interlock removed.

  She will be a free bird.

  No more blowing, humming and inhaling. For now, she offers an invitation to anyone interested in firsthand knowledge to follow her to her car, she will demonstrate.

  Page waits for the group to huddle around her car. She climbs into the vehicle and hooks the handset into the coiled wire, she replaces the mouthpiece. She spits on her left forefinger and rubs it on the back of the suction cup that adheres to the front window.

  She puts the key in the ignition, although you can’t start it, you are ready. “You press this white button on top” she says, “then you wait.” She focuses on the red crawler ticking your instructions. ‘Please wait…SERV 29 (means you have 29 days left in the month before you must recalibrate).

  Almost as though counting, her fingers roll over the console, tap, tap, tap. “You get a feel for it, you just know when it will beep” and …. Blow Now appears.

   “It should have an exclamation point at the end” she quips. The moment finally arrives, the beep sounds off and the red crawl ticks by. She lifts the handset to her mouth and tilts the device sideways.

  Page’s cheeks fill with air, she looks much like a trumpet player blasting breath through the brass tubing. While waiting for the interlock to Analyze (not detecting a BrAC) she explains, “I have to be able to read the red crawl.

  If you don’t do it accordingly the machine aborts and you start all over”. She blows for approximately five seconds. The handset reads HUM, she hums, it sounds much like the Buddhists at Temple chanting their mantra. All the while her eyes stay focused on the handset, INHALE appears, she complies. She drops the handset in a small pocket in the console. Again, she waits.

   “My friends are so crude at times”, she chuckles. Each one of them deems it necessary to make obscene remarks about the blowing, humming and inhaling. She shares that one of her friends calls it ’boning up’. The beep resounds, and PASS reads across the handset.

  To Page, it seems like forever, it takes about 30 seconds. She turns the key, she is about to begin her journey. She continues to share the instructions with the group explaining there is no room for error that must be adhered to, this is one of those times there is no room for error. If you louse up, your car can lock you out for anywhere from five minutes to 24 hours.

  While standing listening to Page, the interlock device begins beeping. Admittedly she says she complains, “It just gets so annoying.”

  The Ignition Interlock will require this monotonous ritual each time she climbs back into the car.

  Page hadn’t driven in eight years. She had relied on the bus, a small group of close friends she could lean on and her two good feet.

  Page joins the approximate 9,000 Floridians who do this every day.

  Not for a week, nor a month. A DUI sentence will get you anywhere from six months to five years.

  Since 2003, Florida has mandated the Ignition Interlock Device, it is no longer a discretionary sentencing option. It has become the law for a blood alcohol concentration (BrAC) measuring 00.15 and above.

  Although Page confesses, “there are days I am in and out of my car more than ten times and I become flat out exasperated”.

  Yet, she will admit that this is far better than the alternative, walking, biking or riding the bus.

  She punches the white button, as she waits her fingers tap the console.

  Please Wait…Blow Now!

  For further information about the laws for DUI in Florida go to

“Please wait…blow now.”

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