If you ask those who have been arrested for a DUI, many them will talk about the internal dilemma they went through prior to getting into the car and driving… that internal justification to start the engine and drive away. Most, if not all of those people will admit they never should have driven. This, of course, is hindsight.
Ignition Interlock Devices Curb DUI Repeat Offenders
Statistics show that one-third of convicted DUI drivers will become repeat offenders. Recognizing this, courts have found a way to help minimize a drunk driver’s ability to even start his or her engine and eliminate that temptation to get behind the wheel. The Court system has turned to the Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) in order to cut down risk and improve public safety. Research demonstrates that ignition interlock devices are an effective tool in stopping an individual from starting a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
What are Ignition Interlock Devices?
An Ignition Interlock Device is a small breathalyzer device that is connected to the ignition of the car. It requires the driver to provide an alcohol-free breath sample before the car will operate. The device will determine whether his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above or below a preset legal limit. If it is above the limit, the device prevents the person’s vehicle from starting. In addition, the IID will require further periodic breath samples to ensure that the driver remains sober throughout the drive. Once the IID requests the sample during the drive, it gives the driver 5-6 minutes to provide the sample. Furthermore, if the alcohol-free sample is not provided, the engine will not shut off; instead, the IID will record a fail.
Read Before Thinking of Cheating the IID…
For those thinking they can cheat the system, be forewarned: The IID is designed to prevent anyone but the driver from providing the breath sample. The technology allows the IID to recognize and required breath patterns, and it is accompanied by a short leash on the IID that will not reach the passenger or back seat of the vehicle. Furthermore, the IID has a log record that shows all attempts to use the IID, as well as start the vehicles engine. The IID even has a back-up lithium battery to protect the data log’s memory.
Once installed in the vehicle, in California, the IID must be calibrated and inspected by a certified installer at intervals not to exceed 60 days. The installers make sure the device is working properly and that no violations have been logged. Drivers who do not comply with IID requirements may be reported to the court or to the DMV (whichever applies), and may have his or her driving privilege suspended or revoked.
The court can order the installation of an IID for any DUI offense, but the duration of time a driver may be required to have an IID will vary. Generally, the circumstances and facts that surround the particular DUI incident will dictate the length of time the IID will be mandated. While California courts generally do not mandate installation for a 1st offense, if a driver is convicted for a first time offense with a refusal, meaning the driver refused to submit to a breathalyzer, blood or urine sample, installation may be required. Furthermore, if a first time offenders blood alcohol level (BAC) is .15 or higher, the court may generally require the installation of an IID. The judge can require the IID to be installed for up to 36 months, which is the standard length of informal probation for a first time offender. In most circumstances, anyone convicted of multiple DUI’s within ten years will be required to install an IID for up 36 months.
If the court orders an IID, the driver must go to a Court ordered interlock installer. Some of the big names include Smart Start, Inc, Global Interlock Service, Instant Interlock and Intoxalock.
Not only are IIDs intrusive, the can be expensive. The offender must pay all costs associated with the ignition interlock Device. Although the cost will vary according to state, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates it costs anywhere from $70 to $150 to install and around $60 to $80 per month for device monitoring and calibration. This breaks down to approximately $3000 for a 3-year term.
The IID technology does have many benefits that are associated with the device. The primary benefit is that it will prevent anyone from drinking and driving. And, as a bonus, it can save the driver the thousands of dollars they would have spent if convicted for a DUI. The IID also allow for the court to give an alternative to previous harsher penalties. Rather than completely suspending a license or longer jail sentence, the judge can now turn the ignition interlock device and therefore, DUI offenders are often able to keep their driving privileges or obtain a restricted license. Furthermore, since the IID is specific to the driver of the vehicle, it doubles as theft protection for the car.
Unfortunately, research also demonstrates that once the ignition interlock device is removed from the vehicle, repetition rates eventually return to pre-installation levels. To achieve a long term, change in behavior and reduce long term risk, individuals should also be involved in a comprehensive alcohol/drug treatment program.