How Ignition Interlock Devices Can Save Lives and Money

Interlock cup

Every day, 28 people die because of drunk driving. Countless more are injured, even crippled for the rest of their lives. Futures are robbed from people because one person couldn’t be responsible enough to not drive under the influence of alcohol. Annually, crashes relating to alcohol cost more than $59 billion. Families go poor because of them — that’s all money that could have been spent toward education or welfare. Countless people have finally begun to ask: how can we lessen this, or even put a stop to it?
Perhaps one of the newest methods of drunk driving control is what’s known as an “ignition interlock device.” Essentially, it’s a car breathalyzer that must be blown into to allow the vehicle to start. They prevent the engine from starting if the device registers above a certain level. This level is set prior to installation by the ignition interlock companies, but is typically around a 0.02 BAC. Around the United States today, there are already over 150,000 interlock systems in place. Right now, they’re being used for drivers with multiple DUI convictions — this is because drunk drivers that are involved in a fatal crash are six times more likely to have a prior DUI conviction than drivers with no alcohol in their system.
Now, your first thought might be that there’s an easy way around it; have someone — a friend or stranger — blow into the device to start your car, then be on your merry drunken way. Most ignition interlock devices now, however, will prompt you to perform a retest five to 15 minutes after the vehicle has been started, and will randomly prompt you throughout the trip. This ensures that a sober person remains behind the wheel.
After they’re installed, there’s about a 70% reduction in impaired driving arrest rates. Ignition interlock devices also reduce repeat offenses — even after the device has been removed. Compared to offenders who never had an interlock installed, repeat offenses are reduced by almost 40%.
Alcohol use in and of itself is no problem — people drink. However, it’s when those people that drink get behind the wheel of a several thousand pound machine that is capable of barreling down the road at speeds of 100 miles per hour that issues happen. People die; lives are ruined. Ignition interlock devices are a promising solution for cutting down on this growing issue. They’ve already saved many people by taking repeat offenders off the streets, and could save many more.