Sirens & Gavels

Ignition device law a test for agencies

Changes to a state law put a fired Spokane police sergeant in a new class of drunken drivers: first-time offenders required to drive with an ignition interlock device.

That new requirement led to Brad Thoma’s dismissal from the Spokane Police Department after the department said public safety would be compromised by having an officer who had to pass a breathalyzer test any time he needed to start his patrol car. It appears to be the first time a law enforcement agency statewide has had to consider the issue.

Now officials with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office are wondering what the requirement could mean for a lieutenant suspected of a drunken car crash in Liberty Lake.

While the Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol handle similar situations on a case-by-case basis, Sheriff’s Office policy calls for employees to be fired after their second drunken driving offense.

“It’s still kind of unclear as to what that means for somebody who is working,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Read the rest of my story here.

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