Drunk driving is a global problem, and governments have been implementing strategies to reduce the number of people driving while under the influence of alcohol.
So far, among the strategies employed to combat drunk driving, ignition interlock installation is proving to be one of the most effective.
Several studies attest to the effectiveness of installing ignition interlock devices (IID), which, among other things, help reduce DUI recidivism and alcohol-involved fatal crashes.
What exactly are IIDs? Here’s everything you need to know about ignition interlock devices.
More Than Just A Breathalyzer
The following parts make up a standard ignition interlock device:
- Handheld unit
- Relay cord
- Camera (optional)
At first glance, an ignition interlock device will remind you of a breathalyzer, a portable device police officers use to draw breath samples from suspected DUI offenders.
An IID may be a breathalyzer itself, but what makes it special is the fact that it’s hardwired to a car’s engine.
DUI offenders ordered by the court to install an IID in their car are required to blow into the device and provide a breath sample before they can start the vehicle.
If the device declares that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below a preset low limit—usually 0.02%—they can start the car without any problems.
A BAC at or above that preset limit, however, will prevent the engine from starting, no matter how hard the driver tries.
Random, Rolling Retests
The work of an ignition interlock device does not stop with the driver passing the initial breath test and being able to start the car. After all, the driver could have cheated by letting someone sober provide the initial breath sample. It’s also possible for someone to start drinking while driving.
As a safeguard against such tricks, ignition interlock devices also initiate rolling retests, which are random tests that ensure the person driving is not alcohol-impaired.
When it’s time for a rolling retest, the device will flash an on-screen notification or beep, which the driver should take as a cue to pull over somewhere safe to do the retest. Some drivers choose to do their retest while driving, though.
For drivers who pull over and turn off the engine before taking the rolling retest, passing it means they can restart the car and drive again, while those who fail it cannot.
If they pull over without turning the engine off and fail the retest, their car lights will start flashing, and the car horn will sound off, forcing them to turn their engine off. The same thing will happen to drivers who do the retest—or fail or refuse to do it—while on the road to force them to pull over and shut the car down.
An IID Is Also A Data Recorder
Ignition interlock devices also record data, which monitoring authorities use to determine if the driver is complying with the rules covering IID use or not.
IIDs record the following:
- The driver’s BAC levels
- Performance in startup tests and rolling retests
- Date and time of startup tests and rolling retests
- Skipped rolling retests
- Attempts to tamper with or remove the device
- Failure to comply with periodic recalibration requirement
IID Violation Penalties
There is a set of regulations that DUI offenders with an IID installed in their cars must follow.
Failing initial breath tests and rolling retests, refusing to take random retests, trying to tamper with or remove the IID, or getting arrested for another DUI all constitute a violation under the rules of an ignition interlock program.
The consequences of breaching IID regulations may include:
- Extension of IID installation period
- Permanent lockout after multiple breath test fails
- Revocation of restricted driver’s license
- Reinstatement of license suspension
- Addition of a camera for stricter monitoring
- Possible jail time
- Hefty fines
- Dismissal from IID program
How Much Does An Ignition Interlock Installation Cost?
If your DUI sentence includes the installation of an ignition interlock device, you are bound by law to have one installed in your car at your own expense.
The cost of IID installation in your car will depend on the make of your car and the state-certified IID company that will lease and install the device. It will typically cost you anywhere between $50 to $150 to have an ignition interlock device hooked up to your vehicle.
Aside from the installation fee, you will also have to shoulder the cost of monthly IID monitoring and maintenance, which is also in the vicinity of $50 to $100. Removing the device upon completion of the IID program will cost you approximately the same amount as well.
Ignition interlock devices are proving their worth in the campaign against drunk driving. While they may also prove to be cumbersome and, in most cases, costly for DUI offenders, IIDs represent the single biggest and tangible means of stopping drunk drivers from hitting the road.