Can Ignition Interlock Devices Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?

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Drunk driving is a serious epidemic that claims thousands of lives every year (10,228 people in 2010 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Alcohol checkpoints and strict laws against intoxicated driving attempt to prevent this behavior, but the statistics show that it is still a widespread concern.

To curb these numbers, some municipalities are forcing drunk driving offenders to incorporate ignition interlock devices into their vehicles.

What are Ignition Interlock Devices?

Ignition interlock devices, or IIDs, force drivers to blow into a device before they can turn their vehicles on. If the driver has a certain amount of alcohol in his or her system, the car will not start. The device may also require a driver to blow again during random points on the road to see if the driver started drinking after starting the car. If the driver fails this random test, the car records the infraction and sounds an alarm that will not stop unless the driver turns off the ignition. A monitoring system records these infractions, which it then passes on to local enforcement agencies.

Are Ignition Interlock Devices Effective at Reducing Drunk Driving?

Statistics from the International Council of Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety indicate that IIDs can reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by 40 to 95 percent if the device is functioning and a monitoring service is keeping accurate records of the driver’s actions.

Many states have introduced these devices, but they have different levels of enforcement. Some states only reserve them for repeat offenders or drivers who had a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or above. Others are making them mandatory for anyone convicted of any drunk driving offense.

Mandatory IIDs could reduce repeat drunk driving behavior, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS found that repeat DUI offenses dropped by 12 percent in Washington after the state expanded its IID program. The study notes that since only a third of drunk drivers had the device installed, it does not give an accurate representation of what would happen if every driver had an IID installed. If that were the case, researchers say that the rate would have dropped by closer to 50 percent.

Victims of drunk drivers deserve justice. Contact an Indianapolis injury attorney if you lost a loved one or sustained critical injuries after a drinking and driving accident.