SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Imagine before you start your car you have to blow into a device to prove you're sober. It could happen someday. A federal agency on Tuesday recommended all new vehicles have what's called an interlocking ignition, but the feds are first tackling first time drunken drivers.
Seventeen states require interlocking ignitions be installed on vehicles of all first-time DWI offenders. Arkansas does and Missouri will by next fall. Some call it a lifesaving tool; others call it a bit extreme.
Some people have nicknames for their cars. Alex Vitro didn't pick his.
"My friends call it the blow mobile."
He laughs because he says he's got to. He'll be driving the blow mobile for another year and half.
"It's embarrassing to pull up next to somebody and they watch you blow into your car," Vitro said.
He is a one-time driving while intoxicated offender.
"I was leaving downtown area with my buddy and didn't make a good decision," he said.
He's paying for it with 200 hours of community service and a lot of hot air. He has to blow into a device to start his car, five minutes later to keep it running, and every 15 minutes after that. Vitro says it's like advertising his mistake.
"You see those student driver stickers on somebody's car -- it should say drunk driver," Vitro joked.
He thinks the penalty was a bit harsh for a first-timer.
"Maybe for six months, I could see that," he said of the length of time the device has to be attached to his car.
Dr. Jim Blaine thinks it's just harsh enough.
"Eight percent of the drivers in the United States at some point drove drunk last year, so that's a significant number of people driving drunk coming at you ever single day," Blaine said.
Blaine began and has chaired Greene County's DWI task force for the past two decades.
"We stimulated most of the legislation on DWI," Blaine said.
That includes lowering the legal limit to drive and getting a zero tolerance law on the books for minors who drink and drive.
Blaine says making interlocking ignitions standard for first-time offenders and in all new vehicles will save lives.
"I doubt anyone except possibly alcoholics or people who make money from drinking and driving who would be opposed to this," Blaine said.
Vitro says he's not an alcoholic. He's a good guy who made a bad choice, and now he drives a blow mobile.
"That's pretty embarrassing," he said.
Vitro, like all people who have the devices on their vehicles, has to pay for it. He paid to have it installed, he'll have to pay to have it taken off, and he pays $65 a month for the service.
He says he knows things could be worse though; he could have hurt someone the night he decided to drink and drive.
The NTSB says, if interlocking ignitions were standard on all new cars, 7,000 lives a year would be spared.