Ignition Interlock Device – Does It Work?

An Ignition Interlock Device is a device that indicates if a driver has been drinking. It measures the level of alcohol in a person’s system and if it exceeds the pre-programmed level, it temporarily disables the vehicle’s ignition in order to avoid any accidents. It works like a breathalyzer into which the driver has to blow before driving a vehicle. The time-span of the lockdown of a vehicle is shorter in response to the first test while detection of alcohol in succeeding tests may result in prolonged lockdown periods.

IID’s Save Lives

IIDs are helpful especially to the case of DUI convicts as they get the opportunity to drive around freely. IIDs also ensure the general public’s safety. It is a potential alternative to sentencing any drunk-drivers. To eliminate the possibility of drinking after the first test, the IID sometimes signals the driver to re-take the test. If the test detects alcohol, the vehicle in motion does not stop but gives the driver indications such as beeping of the horn or blinking of the headlights. Some states have made it compulsory to take these tests again and again, before and during driving. The level of alcohol in the system to lock the vehicle differs in different states.

The information received by the IID is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Probation Office or the court depending upon the nature of the case. Once a device is installed in a vehicle, it saves the data in the name of the driver/defendant regardless of the person that took the test. Although this technology seems effective and in favor of all parties, there are drawbacks. The test may be taken by anyone; if someone takes the test while drunk, it will be passed on as your record to the DMV or probation office which may result in serious consequences and penalties. Furthermore, a person can get a sober friend’s help to start the vehicle. These are serious violations of the law and the defendant might not be able to prove himself right as the information was received from his/her vehicle.

IID’s are Effective

It is required of the defendant to get the device checked periodically and any kind of tampering may result in serious penalties. In case of increased number of tampering incidents, the time-period of IID or ignition interlock term may prolong. The short interlock terms are one of the major limitations of this program; the offenders may complete their term and go back to driving like before. This program does not have a long term effect on the offenders’ psyche or addiction. To eliminate these limitations, the options to avoid participation in this program should be eliminated. For example, lack of vehicle ownership, waiting till the court’s orders for installation and ensuring regular follow-ups. Another upgrade may be to install cameras and sound detectors in the IID but that might also be an invasion of personal space.

The IID program, when working in collaboration with other programs such a rehabilitation programs and recovery groups, can be highly effective and helpful for defendants as well as the general public. As the highways and roads are public property, it must be ensured that everyone out there is safe and secure.

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