What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

Az interlocks

If you?ve never heard of an ignition interlock system, here?s all you need to know about these devices that may one day come standard on all cars!

  • What Are They? These are small machines, about the size of a cell phone, that interlock system installers connect to your car?s ignition system. This car breathalyzer won?t let your car start until you?ve blown into a small tube and proved your blood alcohol limit is below a certain level.
  • What Are the Drawbacks? Only one, really. There are sometimes issues with the system producing errors. This mainly happens if you?ve just used an alcohol-based medication, like a cough syrup, or have rinsed with mouthwash. Waiting a few minutes will usually ensure you have no issue. Ignition interlock installers usually provide training on avoiding those things that can cause a false positive reading.
  • Do They Work? They certainly do. Interlock installation has already happened on about 150,000 vehicles in the United States, usually court-ordered for those with several DUIs. The interlock results in a 70% reduction in arrest rates for those who have it installed. In fact, ignition locks even help after they?re taken off! Drivers who have had one for a while, but then had ignition interlock installers remove the device seem to be more careful about their drinking habits, as repeat offenses among them are reduced by 39% compared to those who never had one on their vehicle.
  • What BAC Are They Set At? An interlock device required by a court is usually set to 0.02%. Some states are considering legislation that will require all new cars to have an interlock installed, which would likely be set at something like 0.03 or 0.04%.
  • Anything Else I Should Know? Some of these devices will require a retest a few minutes into a drive and periodically through any trip. This is to discourage those who might try to drink while actually in the vehicle. Any ignition interlock problem can usually be fixed by the ignition interlock installers who put it in.

Car breathalyzers have a proven track record of protecting against DUI and DWI offenses, which means fewer accidents, less loss of life, and less property damage. While not perfect, the ignition interlock is one great tool in keeping our neighborhoods just a bit safer.

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