Ignition interlock devices are breath alcohol analyzers about the size of a cell phone wired into the vehicles of drunk driving offenders. They’re designed to measure the breath alcohol content (BrAC) of someone who has previously offended and if the drivers BrAC content is too high, the device will prevent the motor vehicle from starting. The devices also require the driver to participate in random rolling tests that if positive, will alert nearby law enforcement with auditory and visual signals that the driver is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
They’re a cost-effective and innovative solution designed to keep our public roadways safe. At a cost of less than $3 per day, paid for by the offender, they act as a sobriety checkpoint for previous offenders while freeing up law enforcement to pursue other crimes.
Offenders with ignition interlock devices are required to periodically go to local service centers where data about their driving behavior is uploaded and monitored by motor vehicle administrators and the courts.
While each state administers their interlock program differently – the devices play a critical role in keeping public roadways that you and your family drive on safe. Since 2006, ignition interlocks stopped 2.3 million attempts to drive while drunk.
An ignition interlock device (IID) or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) can prevent a driver from starting a vehicle if the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) is above a pre-set fail level. Similar to a breathalyzer, the IID analyzes the breath sample provided by the driver to determine the BrAC. If the BrAC is under the pre-set fail level, the IID will allow the ignition of the vehicle to start the engine. If a valid breath sample is not provided, or if the BrAC is at or above the pre-set fail level, the ignition will be disabled thus preventing the engine from being started.
Individuals will install for a variety of reasons. To satisfy a court-ordered requirement, i.e. probation or to retain their driving privileges as part of an administrative licensing requirement. Other reasons to have an IID are in child custody and family visitation issues when alcohol is a factor, family violence, plea bargain or deferred prosecution program, work related compliance or voluntarily.
In an effort to reduce drunk driving recidivism (repeat offenses), while allowing an offender to retain their driving privileges, an ignition interlock restriction can be imposed which would require the use of an IID on any vehicle operated by the offender for the duration of the restriction.
Drunk driving is a crime and habitual offenders should have their licenses suspended while being required to drive with an ignition interlock device while they adjust to living a clean and sober lifestyle. For first-time offenders, ignition interlocks give them the ability to demonstrate a change in behavior that led to an offense in their first place while carrying on their daily activities like going to work, going to the grocery store and taking their kids to activities.
Installation: Once the offender has an IID restriction, an appointment is scheduled with a service center for installation of the IID. At the initial installation, the offender will be trained on how to use the device and the applicable program requirements.
Monitoring: The IID will be monitored as prescribed by the state motor vehicle administrator’s or the court’s guidelines. The device’s data is monitored to ensure the offender in complying with their individual state’s ignition interlock program. The data is most cases is uploaded automatically from the device and in some cases, can be done by returning to the service center.
Removal: Once the order has been issued removing the IID restriction, the offender can then schedule a removal appointment.
Once the offender has a device installed in their vehicle, the frequency of monitoring compliance varies from state to state. The frequency in which the device is monitored can be anywhere from every 30 days to 180 days until which time an offender has an order to remove the interlock from their vehicle.
Fees can be incurred for installation, monitoring and in some instances removal. The device is leased to the offender for the duration of the program, and all costs for the device are inclusive in the monthly monitoring fee.
On average, the installation ranges from $70 to $150, and monitoring ranges from $60 to $80 per month. That equates to roughly $3 dollars per day while the device is installed.
In certain states, there are indigent funds that help offenders the offset the cost of the device and installation, based upon their income verification. Indigent fund guidelines for states that offer this program vary.
Many ignition interlock devices today are equipped with state of the art technology that allows breath samples to be uploaded to the appropriate monitoring agency or officer in real time. Devices can also be equipped with GPS tracking that some states use to alert authorities to the location of an intoxicated driver who has failed a rolling breath test. Devices that don’t have the capability of uploading data automatically will have their data downloaded when the offender returns to the service center for re-calibration.
All IIDs conform to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards as set forth in the model specifications for breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIIDs) in the Federal Register, and any other State specific requirements.
Ultimately, it is the offender’s legal obligation under the conditions of the interlock program that require them to be the person to provide a breath sample to the device each time the vehicle is started.
Depending on the type of device, other security features like cameras may be in place to deter violations by someone providing a breath sample other than the offender.
At the time of installation, offenders are required to establish a pattern of breathing. Each device mandates this as a requirement for installation to ensure compliance and minimize device circumvention. For instance, one offender’s pattern may be three subsequent short breaths while another may have one long breath, two short breaths. The intent of these patterns is to ensure that the offender is the one blowing into the device.
If an offender has difficulty with providing a sufficient amount of breath for a valid sample, the IID can be lowered to the minimum allowable standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA). However, the process and standards for lowering the breath sample in each state varies and each offender’s case is considered individually.
These devices meet the strict standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates the overall safety of motor vehicles and the technology that we use to make them operate safely and more efficiently. NHTSA’s standards cover ignition interlock devices and they cannot disable the engine if a retest is missed or failed. The IID can prevent the ignition from allowing the engine to start, but cannot disable the engine.
The IID will allow the ignition to be restarted without providing a breath test for a couple minutes following the engine’s cease of operation. This will allow the driver a sufficient amount of time to quickly restart the engine.
The device will detect alcohol in all its forms and you should take great care before starting your vehicle. It’s best to wait to apply products where you wish when you arrive at your destination. You also have the option to buy products with a lower alcohol concentration that soften the dispersion factor once applied.
Alcohol-based mouthwash can also contaminate a breath sample. You may also rinse your mouth with water before taking the breath test to start your vehicle. If the use of mouthwash causes you to fail a breath test, it’s best to rinse your mouth with water and wait ten minutes before attempting to provide another breath sample.
No. This is a myth. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco do not contain alcohol.