It’s important that drivers under the influence who are arrested face the consequences of their actions, which often means hefty fines, the revocations of their driver’s license, and even time in jail. Driving while under the influence is not something to be taken lightly and it’s hoped that by facing these consequences, offenders will see that it’s not worth the risk. However, in some cases, these lessons don’t stick and those who drive under the influence will continue to do so. And, for some, having their driver’s license revoked can be a huge issue for them — they may not be able to go to work and support their family or may not be able to get to school and continue their education. Luckily, the arrival of ignition interlock devices has helped provide a solution to both issues.
What Are Ignition Interlock Devices and How Do They Work?
An ignition interlock device is essentially a car breathalyzer. Before the key turns i the ignition to start the engine, the driver is prompted to breathe into a the device. If the device registers a higher alcohol level than what’s set, the engine will not start. The level is generally set around 0.02 BAC.
To prevent drivers from starting the car and then going to get a drink, ignition interlock devices also come with a rolling retest feature. This prompts you to retest five to 15 minutes after the engine has started and will continue to do so at random intervals over the course of your trip. However, if the car’s in motion and the driver fails the test, it won’t simply shut the engine off — which could be a safety hazard. It will blare the horn and flash lights, signaling to the driver — and those around the driver — that something is wrong and they need to stop the vehicle.
What’s the Success Rate or Benefits of an Ignition Interlock?
Currently in the United States, there are already around 150,000 interlock systems in vehicles, usually found in the cars of those who have multiple DUI convictions. These devices are responsible for a 70% reduction in arrests when it comes to impaired driving. They also help cut down on the number of repeat offenses — even if the device has been removed. The number of repeat offenses is slashed by almost 40%, compared to offenders who were not required to install the device.
Given that almost 30 people die every day in the United States because of drunk driving, it’s clear that these devices are needed. There has been some discussion about having these devices simply installed in every vehicle at a pre-set level (far below the legal limit of 0.08). They’ll likely be set at around 0.03 to 0.04.
At the same time, this device also gives people the freedom to carry out their daily, necessary tasks, while still maintaining a safe presence on the road.
What Happens If I can’t Afford Ignition Interlock Installation?
If the driver is court-mandated to install an ignition interlock device, it’s pretty standard that the court will order the driver to pay for it and the installation, as part of their penalty. They’re not terribly expensive — ranging from about $80-$150 in installation and then about $60-$80 to maintain on a monthly basis. However, that can prove to be an unexpected cost and/or financial burden for some individuals or families.
In these cases, appeal to your state. Some have financial assistance programs set in place to help offset the cost — though you should be prepared to present your financial documents to plead your case. If your state doesn’t seem to offer financial assistance, inquire anyway. They may not widely advertise it, but if you’re in dire need of assistance, they may be able to help.
Ignition interlock devices allow those who have driven under the influence the freedom to carry on with their lives, while also curbing their impulses to drink and drive. It helps keep the public safe, the passengers who ride with the driver, and even the driver themselves, while still allowing them to hold employment or attend classes.