According to some estimates, about 350,000 people across the country have ignition interlock devices. These miniature breathalyzers are wired into the car’s electronic system. The device prevents the car from starting unless the driver blows into the device and proves he or she is sober. A growing number of states require people with drunk driving convictions to install them in their vehicles. While its benefits are often touted, its disadvantages are often ignored.
Even though the a driver has to blow into the device to start the car’s engine, the breath tests do not end there. Drivers have to randomly take retests. These require them to lift their hand off the wheel, get the device and blow into it hard for a number of seconds. If the driver does not do it, the car enters panic mode. This means the headlights start flashing and the horn honks until the driver submits to the rolling retest.
What is seldom mentioned is that the rolling retest takes the drivers attention and hands off the task of driving. Cases have arisen where the driver has either become injured or caused someone else’s injury in a car accident.
States do not cover the cost of the ignition interlock device; drivers do. They often pay about $75 for the device and then a monthly monitoring payment that can run up to $100. Altogether, it can amount to more than $1000 a year.
Even the most advanced breathalyzers in police stations give false positives, putting drivers in legal jeopardy. Ignition interlocks are cheaper and less trustworthy, and mouthwashes, breath mints and gums can cause false positives. Sugary foods do too, which is why some companies have advised drivers to avoid them before blowing into the device.
A drunk driving conviction has serious repercussions, which is why it is important to contest charges from the onset. An experienced attorney can discuss various DUI defense options with those facing charges.