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Do Ignition Interlock Devices Reduce the Rate of Alcohol-Related Collisions?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2016 | Personal Injury Law |

A Florida doctor was arrested in March this year after allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and codeine in 2012. The doctor struck and killed a pedestrian that evening, and is now facing a DUI manslaughter charge. Charges are still pending, but the judge ordered that an ignition interlock device be installed on the physician’s car in order to keep him from driving under the influence again. The aim of such devices is to allow offenders to continue driving legally, as many people require the use of a car in order to work or care for a family, while still reducing the rate of drunk driving and therefore drunk-driving collisions. But, do they actually work?

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device is a dashboard-mounted breathalyzer that requires the driver to blow into the device to detect the presence of alcohol before operating the car. If alcohol is detected above a certain predetermined level, the car will not start. Twenty-four states require ignition interlock devices to be installed for all DUI offenders, even first-timers, while others, including Florida, reserve the interlock device for repeated offenses or first-time offenders with high BAC levels. The devices generally must be installed for six months up to two years depending on the type of offense and the driver’s past transgressions.

How Effective Are Interlock Devices?

The Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) conducted a study in December 2014 on the effectiveness of ignition interlock devices on reducing the recidivism rate of driving under the influence. The study found that, in general, interlock devices were more effective than other penalties such as license suspensions. OPPAGA also reported that when used, interlock devices are effective at discouraging DUI offenders from continuing to drive drunk in the short-term. However, the study found that once the devices are removed, recidivism rates once again increase. In addition, the OPPAGA found that less than half of DUI offenders in Florida required to install the interlock devices by the court actually do so. The CDC also reported that DUI recidivism rates were drastically reduced while devices were installed, but that the effect disappeared after the devices were removed.

Research on the effectiveness of the devices at reducing alcohol-related crashes is limited, unfortunately. One study determined that alcohol-related crashes were not higher among DUI offenders using ignition interlock devices compared to DUI offenders who had received license suspensions, but the study also noted that this could be attributed to the fact that interlock users drive more than those with license suspensions. Overall, it is not clear whether the devices actually reduce the rate of drunk driving and related collisions over the long-term. Until closer monitoring is implemented to ensure that drunk drivers commit to staying sober on the road, it is up to drivers to ensure the safety of themselves and others.

Injured in a Drunk-Driving Collision?

If you have been injured in an alcohol-related car or pedestrian accident, let experienced lawyer, John Piccin at Piccin & Glynn help. He has handled hundreds of auto accident cases and is prepared to answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to ensure that you get the support you need. Call John at 352-558-8480 or contact him online for a free consultation to discuss your case today.