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Ignition Interlock Devices: Not a Long-Term Solution to DUI Prevention

December 7, 2015 • DUI Defense

In the state of Florida, a conviction for impaired driving can sometimes lead to a requirement that you install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An ignition interlock device can be embarrassing, a hassle to use and very costly. If you are facing the threat of an ignition interlock device, you should consult with a DUI defense attorney for assistance in finding ways to fight the charges and attempt to avoid this serious consequence.

Safety advocates have long been arguing for the adoption of ignition interlock devices as a consequence of a DUI, with some groups suggesting that conviction even for a first offense should necessitate installing such a device. However, the evidence does not support this suggestion. 

Evidence indicates ignition interlock devices are not a long-term solution to the prevention of drunk driving. Instead of forcing defendants to waste money on these devices, and instead of spending public funds to monitor ignition interlock device use, it may be better for states to focus on ways to provide help to people with past DUI convictions so that repeat DUIs are less likely to occur.

Why IIDs are Not Long-Term DUI Prevention Solutions

In Florida, an ignition interlock device is mandatory if you are convicted of a first DUI offense with a blood alcohol concentration above .15.  The rules for when (or if) an ignition interlock is required can vary by state. When this device is installed in your vehicle, you must pay an initial cost and generally pay an ongoing fee for monitoring. You (and everyone else who drives your vehicle) will need to blow into the device in your car to have your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tested before you can begin driving.  The use of the device is costly and its installation can be an embarrassment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been pushing more states to adopt IID requirements and mandate the use of the device in more situations after DUI convictions. NHTSA has even developed a grant program to facilitate broader use of IIDs.  However, whether these devices actually work is questionable.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study to determine if ignition interlock devices reduce the rate of DUIs or alcohol-related accidents. The studies found that while the use of the devices could lead to a temporary reduction in re-arrests for DUI during the time the devices were installed, re-arrest rates returned to normal once the devices were removed. 

Since ignition interlock devices cannot be required forever after a conviction, the results of this study show that the use of these devices is not an effective long-term solution to helping stop drunk driving. That being the case, other alternatives aimed at actually providing assistance to people convicted of DUI should be explored. 

Those who are facing drunk driving charges in Florida should fight aggressively to try to avoid conviction, reduce penalties and avoid the required use of an ignition interlock device. Call a Tallahassee DUI defense attorney today to find out what your options are if you have been charged.