Ignition Interlock Systems Can Help You Keep Your License
What Is an Ignition Interlock System?
Have you been arrested for DUI? You may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car. Although a hassle, these devices may allow you to drive sooner than you would have without them. In many states, ignition interlock devices are now mandatory. So, what is an ignition interlock device, and how does it work?
An ignition interlock system is a sophisticated device that tests for alcohol on a driver's breath before allowing a car to start. An ignition interlock system requires a vehicle operator to blow into a small handheld alcohol sensor unit that is attached to a vehicle's ignition. The car breathalyzer calculates the driver’s breath alcohol content and allows the car to start only if the BAC is lower than a preset amount (usually .02 to .04 BAC).
Ignition interlock systems that meet federal standards (see the NHTSA Conforming Products List and Technical Information Regarding Alcohol and Drug Law Enforcement Technology) not only require a test to start the engine, but also require a test every few minutes while driving. Called the “rolling” or “running” retest, these additional tests prevent a friend from starting the car and then allowing an impaired driver to take over the wheel
When used by the courts or state motor vehicle departments in conjunction with a monitoring, reporting and support program, the ignition interlock system provides DWI offenders with an alternative to full driver’s license suspension. The use of car breathalyzers has spread rapidly across the country and as of late 1999, 37 states have enacted legislation providing for its integration into the DWI adjudication and sentencing process.
The consequences of a drunk driving conviction are serious. Let one of the DUI LAWS attorneys give you a free consultation.
Does This Technology Work?
Yes. Not only can an ignition interlock system reduce recidivism while it is installed, but the data that is recorded after each test can also be used to predict future behaviors of DUI offenders – a car breathalyzer can show patterns of abuse that can lead to DWI or DUIs and offer insight into offender behaviors.
For example, the most frequent time of day for recording elevated BAC levels is 7 a.m. This indicates a night of heavy drinking. Additionally, use of an ignition interlock system can stop individuals from driving drunk during high-risk time periods – from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Who Benefits From Car Breathalyzers?
All DUI offenders have the potential to benefit from the use of the ignition interlock system - its installation allows offenders to maintain their responsibilities while also reminding them that their behavior has a direct impact on their right to drive. Court systems and motor vehicle administrations agree that car breathalyzers are valuable tools because they deter individuals from driving while intoxicated while the devices are installed. Additionally, when ignition interlock systems are required as a provision of probation or parole, the threat of doing jail time better ensures that DUI offenders will correctly use their car breathalyzer each and every time they get behind the wheel.
Not only the general public benefits from an ignition interlock system. DUI offenders benefit as well. Their lives, and those of family members who share the use of the car, can remain relatively undisrupted – individuals can go to work, pick up children, run errands, etc.
Legislators and government officials like this program because in most cases, the installation and maintenance fees for a car breathalyzer – which run about $60 per month – are paid for by the DUI offenders. Thus, the program can be self-sustaining and does not necessarily affect taxpayers. To realize all the benefits of an ignition interlock system program, you need a qualified DUI attorney to help you through the application process.
The federal government, in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), supports the use of the ignition interlock system. Section 164 of the TEA-21 Restoration Act indicates that state laws regarding second and subsequent convictions for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI/DUI) must, among other provisions:
“Require that all motor vehicles of repeat intoxicated drivers be impounded or immobilized for some period of time during the license suspension period, or require the installation of an ignition interlock system on all motor vehicles of such drivers for some period of time after the end of the suspension.”
TEA-21 required that states have such repeat intoxicated driver laws in place by October 1, 2000. States without these laws will have a portion of their federal-aid highway construction funds redirected into other state safety activities, beginning in Fiscal Year 2001.
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