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Ignition Interlock -- a DUI Prevention Tool With Questionable Popularity

May 14, 2008
There are a variety of different methods that states use to punish convicted DUI offenders while preventing DUI recidivism -- that is, getting drunk and driving again. Commonly, after the first offense, the driver's license is suspended from the onset, with stiff fines and possibly some community service landing the offender on trash detail off of I-90 in a day-glow monkey suit.

Commonly, a first-time offender may still find a harsh penalty. They can definitely find themselves with a steep ticket and an appearance at the municipal court house. Or, in some states, jail time may be a part of the punishment depending on what's current with the state's law books. However, when you are talking about repeat offenders, the penalties naturally get more rugged.

Some states implement a relatively new tool for a DUI offender that is called the ignition interlock system. This is basically a disabling system that can only allow a car's ignition to engage when the car's owner blows into an alcohol reading device attached and clears with a sober reading.

The interlock system has this blower device that extends from the car's dashboard. When given a good reading the electrical system activates and unlocks the ignition system allowing the car to be started. However, when the car is running the tester has to be blown into again every few minutes or so. This is considered the "rolling and running" retest, which eliminates the chance of having a sober friend unlocking it for them, or even worse, cracking open a brewski after given the system's go ahead.

One of the biggest advocates is the group MADD (mothers against drunk driving). However there has been some obstacles and resistance to fully implementing this device.

Interlock Limitations

The interlock device is, on its face, quite clever and novel of an invention. It's so attractive that the largest anti-drunk driving non-profit group MADD is touting its mandatory use for all states. However, it's unfortunate that there is little statistical evidence that shows DUI offenders repeating offenses less with states that use this.

For one, there are still loopholes despite the "rolling and running" retest system. The intoxicated person can simply take another car -- a friend's, a rental or otherwise. The system of retesting during the drive has shown, in some results, higher incidents of crashes. And, after nearly a decade of many states using this system, no good evidence has shown otherwise. Until the root of alcoholism is staved off, the DUI courts may not find this popular until it shows better results.
About the Author
1.800.DUI.LAWS (http://www.1800duilaws.com) is virtual network list of DUI Lawyers for clients to use and seek out legal assistance within their state. They also provide straight answers to commonly asked questions regarding state laws and DUI enforcement. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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